Exclusive: First Law Suit Filed in Canada Over Concussions

16 Jul

Terry Ott has filed this BREAKING NEWS in regards to Canadian Football and the Concussion Issue.  We here at The Concussion Blog are pleased to bring this information to you…  You can find the FILED CLAIM HERE.

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FORMER CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYER SUES LEAGUE MEMBER TEAMS FOR CONCUSSION RELATED INJURY

Lawsuit on Behalf of Star Arland Bruce III Alleges “Fraudulent Concealment” and “Negligent Misrepresentation” By 9 CFL TeamsLeague Commissioner, CFL Alumni Association and Others

Contrary to (popular) opinion, the sports press likes to fling incense, be part of the show, create stars, and to that end prints and televises a fraction of what it knows.” -Mark Kram, formerly of Sports Illustrated 

July 16, 2014
Hamilton, Ontario

The first lawsuit brought against the CFL member teams and others for concussion injury has been filed in Vancouver, British Columbia in the Supreme Court on behalf of Arland Bruce  III, a veteran of 12 seasons as a speedy wide receiver who last played for the Montreal Alouettes in 2013 and also starred on two different Grey Cup winning teams as well as spending the 2003 season with the San Fransisco 49rs.

Bruce, noted in the claim as an “unemployed football player,” is the holder of the record for most receptions in a CFL game (16) and is a three-time CFL All Star.

The claim, so far for unspecified monetary damages, asks for general damages, special damages, general and special damages “in trust” for the care and services provided by his family, and punitive and aggravated damages.

In the claim filed by the Vancouver law firm of  Slater Vecchio LLP and lawyer Robyn L. Wishart, it is alleged that Bruce suffered a concussion and was knocked unconscious in a game played in Regina, Saskatchewan on September 29, 2012 between the BC Lions — Bruce’s team at the time — and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Bruce subsequently returned to play for the Lions in a playoff game on November 18, 2012 and it is alleged that he was still suffering from his previous concussion and it is also alleged he suffered additional concussive and sub-concussive hits during the  Nov. 18 game.

From a copy of the claim, not proven in a court of law, it alleges in part:

  1.  The plaintiff reported concussion signs and symptoms to the BC Lions medical personnel and coaching staff including but not limited to the following:
    1. fogginess;
    2. headaches;
    3. sensitivity to light;
    4. sensitivity to sound;
    5. memory loss;
    6. confusion;
    7. dizziness;
    8. anxiety; and
    9. personality changes.

After the 2012 season, Bruce left the BC Lions and was signed for the 2013 season by the Montreal Alouettes.

Also from the claim: “Further, despite the fact that the plaintiff was displaying the ongoing effects of concussion to medical professionals  and coaching staff, he was permitted to return to play in the 2013 season for Montreal.”

In a 2011 Yahoo! Canada  Sports 55 Yard Line  article by Andrew Bucholtz,  and so noted in the claim, commissioner Mark Cohon said “I am convinced that every concussion is being reported and dealt with. I trust our  doctors. I trust our therapists. I trust our teams to report that.”

And in the 2011 Canadian Football League  concussion “Campaign” directive to the CFL clubs from Cohon advised to “err on the side of extreme caution” when dealing with suspected concussion injury.

Those familiar with my series “3rd Down, CTE To Go,” for the Concussion Blog in 2013 will recall former CFL player Leo Ezerins, now communications director for the Canadian Football League Alumni Association, and Dr. Charles Tator, of the University of Toronto, Krembil Neuroscience Centre, and the Canadian Sports Concussion Project. 

Both Tator and Ezerins believed there were “more questions than answers” between concussion and brain trauma and that “extreme caution” be used in any subsequent diagnosis of CTE.

Accordingly, Ezerins and Tator are named as defendants in the lawsuit and perhaps the most revelatory allegations — again not proven in a court of law – made in the claim are that Bruce continued to play CFL football after suffering concussion  and sub-concussive injuries because: 

  1. The plaintiff relied upon the statements made by the Defendants and returned to play football for the CFL believing that there was “more questions than answers” between concussion and sub-concussion brain trauma and neurodegenerative disease.
  2. The plaintiff relied upon the statements made by the Defendants and returned to football after the Incident believing that the CFL, Commissioner Cohon, CFLAA, Leo Ezerins, Dr. Tator and KNC were at the forefront of concussion prevention and awareness.
Furthermore, the claim alleges that  “The CFL Commissioner Cohon willfully and knowingly failed to disseminate to the plaintiff the relevant health information it possessed regarding multiple concussions leading to long-term brain injury, including, but not limited to memory loss, dementia,depression, and CTE related symptoms, showing contempt for the plaintiff’s rights by unnecessarily endangering the plaintiff’s life.” 

Also a 2011 “Concussion Initiative”, Cohon said  “…we feel a special obligation to learn all we can and lead whenever and wherever we can.”

However, despite multiple requests for an interview last fall on the concussion issue as well as all the “initiatives” announced by the league, the CFL declined to grant me an interview and after one session with Ezerins and several e-mails, he asked me not to contact him again.


The claim, not dissimilar in some ways to the 2011 NFLPA master complaint against the NFL also alleges that the league “has a list of pictures and videos created by the CFL glorifying violent hits,” and even includes a list of “Top 10 Hits,” posted on the CFL Website. The claim alleges that “the CFL makes profits off promoting these types of hits,” while at the same time fining players who do so.

However, the claim contains no specific post-football medical allegations from health care professionals as to Mr. Bruce’s current medical condition although a person with knowledge of Mr. Bruce’s condition described it as “symptomatic for concussion syndrome.”

So, the first shot across the concussion bow of processional football in The Great White North has been fired and will most likely land with a bang.

And ironically, Mr. Bruce who was certainly no stranger to controversy during his playing days, will likely become controversial post career with this ground-breaking lawsuit that will roil the league and even more damaging to the CFL, bring many more players suffering in silence from concussion injury, out into the open. When I began this investigation 18 months ago I was told repeatedly that it would come to nothing and I was mostly shut out by most of the mainstream media. Well, nothing, I guess, is now here and who knows what the media will do with it.

You can find the FILED CLAIM HERE.

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7 Responses to “Exclusive: First Law Suit Filed in Canada Over Concussions”

  1. SportsCAPP.com July 16, 2014 at 11:46 #

    Proud of you!!

    Katherine Price Snedaker, MSW PinkConcussions.com SportsCAPP.com TheConcussionConference.com 203.984.0860

    Associate Member National Sports Concussion Coalition sportsconcussioncoalition.org

    Member of the Advisory Council, Protecting Athletes and Sports Safety initiative National Council on Youth Sports Safety, Inc. youthsportssafety.org

  2. Mike H July 16, 2014 at 11:53 #

    I am interested in any comments from the defendants and other relevant parties when they become available.

  3. Jenn Hartman (@hartman_jenn) July 16, 2014 at 15:46 #

    Well done, as always, Dustin. Will be following this closely. Kudos!

  4. Larry July 16, 2014 at 23:24 #

    You do know Bruce is a clown, right? He is out of the CFL because he is old and he made homophobic comments on twitter.
    Now, he decides he wants a payday. Of course, the writer of this article will applaud anyone, even a clown as long as he confirms his bias…

  5. Jake Benford July 17, 2014 at 00:02 #

    Looks like the northern dam now has a crack.

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