United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
putative class action against thirty-two member clubs of the
National Football League follows an earlier lawsuit against
the NFL also challenging administration of painkiller drugs.
The defendant clubs now move to dismiss, arguing the claims
against them are preempted by Section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act and barred by the statute of
limitations. To the extent stated herein, however, the claims
against the clubs are not preempted under Section
301 and are not barred by the statute of
limitations. The motion to dismiss is therefore Denied.
include the estate of a former NFL player and twelve retired
players. The named plaintiffs, as a group, have played for
every club in the NFL from 1964 to 2010. Defendants are the
thirty-two member clubs of the NFL (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 8,
following well-pled facts are assumed to be true for purposes
of the present motion. Starting in the 1960s, the clubs'
doctors and trainers provided players with painkillers,
anti-inflammatories, and sleep aids in an effort to quickly
return players to the game, rather than allow them to rest
and heal properly from serious, football-related injuries.
The clubs maintained the "return-to-play" culture
by concealing the health risks associated with taking such
medications from the players. Club doctors and trainers often
failed to disclose adequate or accurate information about
side effects or long-term health consequences of the
medications. When asked about side effects of medications,
club doctors and trainers responded, "none, "
"don't worry about them, " "not much,
" "they are good for you, " or, in the case of
injections, "maybe some bruising." These answers
misrepresented the actual health dangers posed by these drugs
(id. at ¶¶ 5-7, 102, 106).
doctors and trainers further provided medications without a
prescription and without properly documenting administration
of the medications. At times, club doctors and trainers
provided medications without informing players of the names
of the medications (id. at 111). Player Jerry Wunsch
remembers that on flights home from football games, club
trainers would "walk up and down the aisles of the
plane, handing out anti-inflammatories and pain killers to
anyone who needed them, no questions asked"
(id. at ¶ 211). Player Steven Lofton remembers
that (id. at ¶ 217):
Trainers would simply hand him pills and tell him that he
needed to take them. The doctors who injected him never said
the name of the drug he was being given. Mr. Lofton does
remember that the drugs were being given out like M and
M's, the candy. On the plane home from away games, a
doctor would walk down the aisle, take pills from zip-lock
bags and hand them to the players. Mr. Lofton remembers those
flights as being strangely quiet as 53 players were numbed to
sleep by the power of the drugs. He was never told by anyone
of the side effects of the drugs.
club distribution practices allegedly violated the Controlled
Substances Act and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
(id. at ¶¶ 125, 148, 161).
suffer from internal organ injuries and muscular/skeletal
injuries incurred while playing in the NFL and exacerbated by
medications the clubs administered to keep players on the
field (id. at ¶ 13). Some of the plaintiffs
suffered latent injuries discovered as recently as 2014
(id. at ¶¶ 201, 227).
filed the instant action against the clubs on May 21, 2015,
in the United States District Court of Maryland alleging
claims for intentional misrepresentation and "civil
conspiracy." The clubs moved to dismiss, arguing the
claims are preempted by Section 301 and barred by the statute
of limitations. The clubs also moved to transfer the action
to the Northern District of California. Judge William
Nickerson of the District Court in Maryland granted the
transfer. Evans v. Arizona Cardinals Football Club,
LLC, No. CV WMN-15-1457, 2016 WL 759208, at *4 (D. Md.
Feb. 25, 2016). This order follows full briefing, including
supplemental briefing, and oral argument.
clubs seek judicial notice of the various
collective-bargaining agreements (CBAs) appended as exhibits
to their motion to dismiss (Curran Exhs. 1-13). Plaintiffs
cite to these CBAs in the complaint (Compl. ¶¶
73-79) and do not object to judicial notice of them.
Accordingly, the clubs' requests for judicial notice of
Curran Exhibits 1-13 are Granted. Because this order ...