Painkillers for Profit Gains: How the Ninth Circuit’s Revival of Dent v. NFL Could Hold the League Liable for Long-term Injuries Caused by Its Administration of Painkillers
46 S.U. L. Rev. 195, 325 (2019)
21 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2019 Last revised: 12 Jul 2019
Date Written: March 9, 2019
Ambition, hard work, and competition drive football players to reach the pinnacle−the National Football League (“NFL”). It’s a long and grueling road to receive the call on draft day that says, “I’ve made it.” Outside the locker room, the NFL is filled with high income, fame, and success. But on the inside, there is more than just those three hours on Sunday. Along with the bumps and bruises, former players are leaving the NFL with addiction, long-term injuries, and internal damage due to the administration of painkillers.
In Dent v. NFL former players alleged in a 2014 class action suit that the NFL, team doctors, and trainers plied players with painkillers in efforts to get players back on the field as part of a “return to play” culture. Specifically, the players alleged opioids, Toradol, and anti-inflammatories were administered in dangerous quantities and without warning of associated health risks. But, Section 301 preemption of the Labor Management Relations Act blocked their efforts in the Northern District Court of California−at least until 2018. In this Article, the author discusses the Ninth Circuit’s revival of Dent v. NFL by examining the workings of Section 301 preemption and its interaction with Collective Bargaining Agreements, and the drug use within the NFL. Additionally, the author discusses the prior attempts by the players through the courts in Dent and in Evans that provided the basis for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to push the former players past the first-down marker.
Keywords: Dent v. NFL, Painkillers, Return-to-play, Section 301 Preemption, Collective Bargaining Agreements, National Football League, Opioids, Toradol
JEL Classification: K00, K12, K31, K32, K39, K13, Z22, J41, J52, J81, L55, Z29, I19, L83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation