Craig Morton Concussions

DEFENDANT NAME: National Football League, NFL Films
CASE NUMBER: 13-cv-05708
COURT: U.S. District Court
PRACTICE AREA: Sports Litigation
STATUS: Active
DATE FILED: 12/10/13
Steve W. Berman

Hagens Berman represents retired NFL quarterback Craig Morton in a lawsuit against the National Football League claiming Morton and other NFL players suffered repeated head injuries because the league failed to protect them from foreseeable safety risks on the playing field.

The suit details Morton’s career as starting quarterback for three NFL teams during his 18-year career playing for the Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants. 

His long career exposed him to significant risk, attorneys believe, particularly compared to the average NFL tenure of three and a half years.  Morton passed for more than 27,000 yards, and 183 touchdowns, but also was sacked 373 times over his nearly two decades in the NFL.

The lawsuit, filed on Dec. 10, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claims that Morton sustained multiple concussive and subconcussive brain traumas while playing in the NFL.

“Mr. Morton had an illustrious career, leading two different teams to compete in Super Bowls, but that success came at a high price to his future health,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and one of Morton’s attorneys. “We believe that Mr. Morton suffered serious concussive hits during his career, and the NFL could have and should have taken action to protect him and all other players, but deliberately failed to do so.”

Mr. Morton stated:  “I wanted to step forward not only for myself, but to make sure that no former players are left out in the cold if the NFL follows through on its announced plans to propose a settlement relating to brain injuries. I wanted to let former players know that if a fair deal for all players isn’t put on the table, I’m willing to fight with whoever will join us.”

The complaint alleges that defendant NFL and its promotional arm, NFL Films, glorify the brutality and ferocity of NFL football, propagating the myth that receiving big hits is a badge of courage without serious health impacts. The complaint details a number of NFL Films productions which prominently feature big hits and include players dismissing the risks of concussions.

The lawsuit also claims that the NFL was fully aware of the risks of head injuries to its players. According to the complaint, the NFL had unparalleled access to comprehensive medical data relating to concussions in professional football and received and paid for advice from medical consultants who could testify to the risks to players.

The complaint also alleges that the NFL voluntarily took upon itself a duty to protect players from safety issues. 

“From its earliest days, the league took proactive action, changing rules to make the game safer,” said Berman. “In 1994, the NFL agreed to fund a committee to study the issue, but instead of using it to make the game safer, we allege the committee helped the league engage in a campaign of disinformation designed to falsify and dispute the medical evidence regarding concussions.”

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for Morton for the injuries he suffered, as well as ongoing medical monitoring to protect him in the event of future medical issues.

Hagens Berman and Bob Stein are continuing to investigate these issues, and invite other retired NFL players who believe they may have suffered injuries or are at risk for future injuries to contact the firm.  Bob Stein is an attorney, former NFL player, and founding president and CEO of the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves. Stein is widely known among former NFL players for conceiving and beginning the class-action litigation against the NFL for the unpaid and unauthorized use of former players’ images in NFL Films’ productions, including on the NFL Network.  Hagens Berman and Stein presently represent hundreds of former NFL players in litigation against the NFL and NFL Films who have “opted-out” and rejected the proposed settlement in the Dryer v. NFL class-action litigation. 

Hagens Berman attorney Jon King, a member of the firm’s case team, can be reached by calling 510-725-3034 or by emailing Bob Stein can be reached at 952-829-1043 or by emailing

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