Lawsuit Against NFL Alleges Misuse of Painkillers by Team Doctors

The current lawsuit against the National Football League is a serious one, outlining a number of instances in which team “physicians and trainers acted without regard for players’ health, withholding information about injuries while at the same time handing out prescription painkillers […] to mask pain and minimize lost playing time.” Filed back in May, it seeks compensation for former NFL players going back as far as 1968.

But some of our of Connecticut readers may have just found out about the lawsuit over the weekend after federal drug enforcement agents showed up after three football games to check in on the teams’ medical staff and practices. As you may have realized, the lawsuit not only has civil ramifications now but criminal ones as well, especially if prosecutors find out that trainers and physicians violated the Controlled Substance Act during the course of the football season.

Former NFL players make some rather startling accusations in the class-action lawsuit, including flights in which trainers would hand out pain killers to players who requested them. Another accusation claims that “some teams filled out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge or consent.”

As we mentioned above, the potential violation of the Controlled Substance Act adds to the seriousness of the case, particularly because the act specifically states that “only doctors and nurse practitioners can dispense prescription drugs” to patients, or in this case football players. If an unlicensed trainer gave the drugs to a player, then they would have not only committed a serious medical mistake but a criminal act as well.

Just like other cases we have highlighted on this blog, this particular case best shows how some medical malpractice cases can bleed into other areas of law, such as criminal law. When this happens, cases can become even more complicated than they already are, further highlighting the need for an experienced attorney.

Source: TIME, “DEA Agents Raid NFL Medical Staffs After Games,” Jim Litke, Nov. 17, 2014