The family of former Georgia defensive back Paul Oliver, who committed suicide last year, is suing the NFL for wrongful death on the premise that football-related concussions led to his suicide, according to the Associated Press.
Oliver, 29, shot himself to death in front of his wife, Chelsea, and two sons in Marietta last September.
Oliver’s wife and sons filed the suit Monday in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The lawsuit targets the league, the New Orleans Saints, the San Diego Chargers and the companies that own several helmet manufacturers. The suit alleges fraud and negligence as well.
The suit claims Oliver killed himself as a “direct result of the injuries, depression and emotional suffering caused by repetitive head trauma and concussions suffered as a result of playing football, not properly appreciating football’s risks with respect to head trauma” and using faulty helmets.
Oliver’s wife says he suffered “mood, memory and anger issues” that correlate with repetitive head trauma. After his death, the suit claims, a pathologist confirmed that Oliver had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
This is a progressive degenerative brain disease commonly found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma, says the CTE Center at Boston University’s medical school.
The suits claims that the NFL and others knew for several years about the risks associated with those types of injuries, yet concealed that information. Oliver, the suit alleges, was consequently left ignorant about the risks of playing “from his first snap of youth football to his tragic death.”
It claims that the NFL encourages its players to ignore the results of head impacts and glorifies the “brutality and ferocity” of football in its marketing.
The Saints organization declined to comment, and messages left for NFL and Chargers representatives have not been returned.
The Oliver suit follows an NFL-proposed $765 million settlement of a separate concussion injury lawsuit, which could impact thousands of current and former athletes.
In early September, the NFL released data which estimated that nearly three in 10 former players will develop debilitating brain conditions at some point, and they will feel the effects of them sooner and at least twice as often as the general population.