- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2012

Art Monk, the Hall of Fame wide receiver who played 14 seasons for the Washington Redskins, sued the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell, Inc. over “short term memory loss, headaches and speech difficulties” from multiple concussions sustained during his career.

Monk is the lead plaintiff in the 82-page lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging the NFL failed to protect players “against the long-term brain injury risks associated with football-related concussions.”

“Lets not have any more players hurt by this,” Tom Girardi, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, told The Washington Times in a phone interview Thursday. “What the [expletive] does it take? This game has to change dramatically or you’re going to have this situation over and and over.”

Monk, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, is one of 63 plaintiffs. Two identical suits were filed in the court last week by a total of 198 ex-players. Fifteen played for the Redskins in addition to Monk, from Paul Laaveg to Robert Brunet.

Girardi’s Los Angeles-based firm, Girardi Keese, filed the first concussion-related lawsuit against the NFL in July 2011. A wave of lawsuits have followed, encompassing over 2,000 ex-players, according to NFLConcussionLitigation.com, one site tracking the legal wrangling.

The web site first reported Monk’s lawsuit.

At least 150 ex-Redskins are involved in the various lawsuits, including Mark Rypien, the quarterback who was the Most Valuable Player from Super Bowl XXVI.

After Junior Seau’s suicide last week, 40 ex-players contacted Girardi’s firm about joining the concussion litigation. Girardi represents around 400 ex-players.

“Some of these poor guys can’t remember the names of their children,” said Girardi, who once represented the activist Erin Brockovich. “Some symptoms are much less, but clearly have concussion-type symptoms.”

Girardi would like to see independent medical screening of ex-players, counseling, medical assistance and provision for those who can’t keep jobs because of concussion-related problems, among other things.

“The goal is to try to make these people as good as possible, knowing the situation they’re now under,” Girardi said, “and knowing they have a lifetime problem.”

Similar to the other lawsuits, Monk’s accuses the NFL of knowing and concealing the long-term effects of concussions while “engaging in a long-running course of negligent and fraudulent conduct.”

“Players who suffered concussions were told by the NFL and its agents not to be overly concerned, and were regularly returned to game action mere minutes after sustaining them,” the lawsuit said.

Not until 2010, the lawsuit said, did the NFL and Riddell, Inc. inform any player of long-term risks of concussions.

The lawsuit said Monk’s concussions were “improperly diagnosed and improperly treated throughout his career” and he suffers from “multiple traumatic brain injuries,” language used for each plaintiff.

In a 1994 Newsday story, Monk admitted to suffering three concussions up to that point in his 16-year career, which ended in 1995. He finished with 940 catches for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns in a career that included brief stops with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.

Monk, 54, resides in Great Falls, Va., and is involved in a number of business ventures in addition to serving on the Board of Trustees at Syracuse University.

Through his publicist, Monk declined to comment Thursday.


• Nathan Fenno can be reached at nfenno@washingtontimes.com.

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