Chiefs Hall of Fame members Art Still and Albert Lewis headline a group of nine former Chiefs who have joined the workers compensation lawsuit that was recently filed against the team.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
On Dec. 3 ― just three months after the NFL agreed to settle what became known as the Concussion Case for $765 million ― Chris Martin and four other former Chiefs filed a lawsuit against the organization in an attempt to learn what the organization knew about concussions and when it was known.
The 14 former players are seeking undisclosed financial damages.
In the amended petition, which was submitted over the weekend, Still and Lewis are joined by Dino Hackett, Todd McNair, Fred Jones, Tim Barnett, Walker Lee Ashley, Emile Harry and Chris Smith as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
When asked what the addition of former team greats like Lewis and Still meant to the lawsuit, Ken McClain ― a lawyer for the players ― said Monday that he hopes it helps people see that the lawsuit addresses real concerns.
"They're not some malcontents or people unhappy with the KC Chiefs and their careers," McClain said. "They've been injured and should be taken care of. These are all players who had great loyalty to Chiefs and gave their lives to the team and are now suffering the consequences with no hope of compensation. It's a widespread problem and these players have a right to be compensated."
The petition says that each player suffered multiple concussive and subconcussive blows to the head which caused or contributed to cause a constellation of neurologic/brain harms, including post-concussion syndrome and traumatic brain injuries, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The petition also says that the Chiefs wrongful conduct directly caused or contributed to this.
The original lawsuit, which was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court by Martin, Kevin Porter, Joe Phillips, Louis Cooper and Leonard Griffin, centers on two key factors.
First, the plaintiffs all played during years ― between 1987 and 1993 ― when there was no collective bargaining agreement in the NFL. For this reason, the players can sue an individual team rather than the league. The NFL is not named in their lawsuit.
Also, in 2005 there was an amendment to the workers compensation statute in Missouri that allowed employees to sue employers in civil court if the employees declined workers compensation.
The window allowing such lawsuits to be filed expires at the end of this month.
"I think there are more players that will file before the first of the year," McClain said.
Former St. Louis Rams players from the same era are eligible to file a similar lawsuit under Missouri's unique workers compensation statute, but McClain couldn't speak to whether or not a similar lawsuit is in the works on that side of the state.
Still played for the Chiefs from 1978 to 1987 and is regarded as one of the best defensive linemen to ever don a Chiefs uniform. The four-time Pro Bowler has the second-most tackles (992) and the fourth-most sacks (73) in club history.
Lewis played for the Chiefs from 1983 to 1993 and is fifth on the teams all-time interception list with 38. He is also a four-time Pro Bowler.