NFL Illegal Medication Lawsuit

A group of retired NFL players has sued the league, alleging that they were illegally provided with narcotics and other painkillers. The lawsuit alleges that the drugs were obtained illegally and that players were not warned of possible side-effects. Lead counsel Bill Sinclair explains that three categories involved: controlled substances that are carefully regulated by the federal government; non-controlled prescription drugs, like Toradol, that do not fall within the Controlled Substances Act but must be prescribed by a doctor; and over-the-counter drugs. Each group has its own problems, Sinclair explains.

William Sinclair

William Sinclair

Sinclair explains that the lawsuit is against the league and not against individual teams on the belief that the practices complained of are “driven from the NFL.” The league, on a weekly basis, issues injury reports, introduces players to the league through the combine experience, and so it all comes down to the league. There are allegations that players who had serious injuries, like a broken leg, weren’t told about the nature of those injuries. Sinclair says that doctors and trainers weren’t telling players about the extent of their injuries. Players would trust the doctors and trainers to have their best interests at heart and so would get back in the game while injured. Even after the game, Sinclair says, the information was not forthcoming as to the extent of injuries.

Sinclair says that the practices complained of were not peculiar to any particular decade of the NFL. There were differences over time, “but you have some commonalities as well,” Sinclair opines, discussing the ritual aspect of getting their morning cup of coffee “and their drugs for the day.” The lawsuit covers many decades of NFL history. “There’s a stress on returning to play” that is common both to this lawsuit and a separate lawsuit related to concussion injuries. Sinclair suggests that there may be a “strong corollary” between the stress on returning to play and the desire to make a profit.

Sinclair discusses the class action aspect of this lawsuit in which than 600 players, led by former stars Jim McMahon and Richard Dent, have joined. Sinclair opines that as many as 5,000 players could come forward to be part of the litigation.

William Sinclair is a partner in Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, LLC, Baltimore, MD. Mr. Sinclair’s practice covers a wide-range of civil and criminal matters in Federal and State courts and before administrative tribunals throughout the country.  He has defended corporations, individuals, and public agencies and utilities in toxic tort, environmental, and product liability cases; commercial matters; land use and other real estate disputes; and environmental, health care, and securities enforcement proceedings and investigations as well as other complex crimes. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.

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