Professor Phillip J. Closius appeared before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Dec. 15, 2016, in the case of Richard Dent v. NFL (15-15143). Closius is among the attorneys representing the appellants in the class-action lawsuit.
The case involves former football players’ allegations that they were given painkillers and narcotics without prescriptions by the National Football League, which did not warn them of possible side effects.
Closius addressed a three-judge panel of the court in San Francisco (see video here):
“The factual allegations at the heart of this case involve a disconnect between the face of the NFL and the shadow reality that supports it. Article 39 of the collective bargaining agreement [CBA] is clear that the health-care responsibilities are placed on the club and that the NFL has no duties or obligations of health care to the players under the CBA.
“However, as pled and presumed to be true, the NFL controls and directs a pyramidal scheme for the distribution of controlled substances and prescription drugs in flagrant disregard of federal and state law. The NFL is attempting to use the words of the CBA to shield its illegal activity.”
Dent, a former Chicago Bears defensive end and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told the Chicago Tribune in 2014 that he joined the lawsuit to help not just retired players but also players still in the league.
Dent said he wanted the NFL to stop treating players like “livestock.”
“[The case is] not about me. It is [about] me and what I experienced and went through,” Dent said. “There should be some accountability for what already is out and what is to come. Otherwise, we’re like livestock. You know, some of us make it, some of us don’t. Everyone knows about the wear and tear on the body and the possibility of getting paralyzed. I can have a great game [as a player], but I am not there [later in life] to take advantage of the game. So what the hell is that worth? Now it’s time to start doing something about it.”
Closius is among several attorneys involved in the case, who include Steven D. Silverman, J.D. ’91, of Silverman|Slutkin|Thompson|White. The firm, with offices in Maryland, California and New York, represents the appellants in the class-action suit.