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Expert Links Football Players’ Concussions to Behavioral Problems, Slams NFL Settlement Deal

A brain injury expert from Boston University is speaking out for players he feels have been unfairly excluded from a settlement deal in the class action lawsuit against the NFL over the health effects of play-related brain injury.

Robert Stern filed an affidavit with the court and then took his story to the press, telling The Associated Press (AP) that the compensation in the settlement may be going to the wrong people.

Stern told AP reporters that behavioral problems, including domestic violence, drug addiction and suicide, can all be caused by chronic traumatic encephalopathy — also known as CTE — a condition caused by repetitive head trauma.

Right now, doctors cannot physically diagnose CTE until after a patient has died. As such, it has been difficult to link football and CTE.

But a recent report on that link is causing a stir. PBS Frontline recently went in-depth on a new report from Boston University and the Department of Veterans Affairs, who collaborate within a center that studies CTE. The center studied the brains of 79 deceased NFL players and found evidence of CTE in 76 of them.

In addition, the center studied a range of other football players — high school, college and semi-professional. All told, more than 80 percent of all football players studied showed signs of CTE.

In light of the findings, which suggest a very strong link between football and CTE, Stern was troubled by the settlement deal in the NFL concussion case. He told the AP that repetitive head trauma does not lead to Alzheimer’s disease — a condition covered by the settlement. But serious mood and behavior disorders, which are linked to repetitive head trauma and CTE, are not covered. As such, many players who suffer the symptoms of significant neurological damage from football could be left out of the settlement.

Some NFL players have already opted out of the class-action case in order to file individual lawsuits against the NFL, according to ABC News.

The class action lawsuit against the NFL was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is case number 2:12-md-02323-AB.

More Controversy Appears in Case Questioning Highway Guardrail Safety

A mistrial has been declared in a federal lawsuit which alleges that some highway guardrails across the country pose a deadly risk to drivers.

The lawsuit was filed by a whistleblower alleging that guardrails produced by Trinity Industries, a Texas-based guardrail manufacturer, are malfunctioning and killing drivers. The lawsuit further charges that the guardrail defect is the result of a product change that the company hid from the government and safety inspectors.

The judge dismissed the case over what he found to be “inappropriate conduct” on both sides, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The judge suggested that representatives from Trinity Industries may have tampered with witnesses. Further, the judge found that the whistleblower and plaintiff, Joshua Harman, may have destroyed evidence.

Since Harman has come forward with the charge of a product defect, numerous accident victims have claimed that guardrails malfunctioned, causing injury or death. A recent article by Bloomberg News noted that at least nine lawsuits have been filed by victims claiming personal injury or wrongful death caused by the guardrail malfunction.

The danger, according to Harman, is the end-cap on some of the guard rails. Allegedly, an impact plate that is meant to absorb energy and move along with the car can instead malfunction and pierce through the car, grievously injuring those inside.

Trinity Industries denies that any secret change was made to the guardrails. The company acknowledges that a change was made, but it insists that all regulatory bodies were appropriately informed and that all necessary safety testing was performed. The company also insists that the guardrails function properly, and it has not recalled any of the hundreds of thousands of implicated guardrails that currently line highways across the United States.

The case in question is Harman v. Trinity Industries, 2:12-cv-00089, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District TX.