Canadian Underwriter

Court dismisses former Canadian Football League player’s negligence lawsuit arising from head injury

March 15, 2016   by Gemma Karstens-Smith - THE CANADIAN PRESS

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VANCOUVER – A British Columbia judge has tossed out a lawsuit by a former Canadian Football League player who claims negligence, alleging players haven’t been protected from concussions.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Hinkson said in a written ruling that the issues raised in Arland Bruce’s lawsuit are part of a collective bargaining agreement between the league and the CFL Players’ Association.

Hinkson dismissed the case, saying those issues must be resolved through the grievance and arbitration process, not the courts.

A British Columbia court ruled that issues raised in a lawsuit filed by former football player Arland Bruce are part of a collective bargaining agreement between the Canadian Football League and the players’ association

The defendants included the league, former commissioner Mark Cohon, neuroscientist Dr. Charles Tator, the Canadian Football League Alumni Association and every team in the league.

Bruce played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, B.C. Lions and Montreal Alouettes over the course of his 14 year career.

He was part of Grey Cup winning teams in Toronto in 2004 and with the B.C. Lions in 2011.

The former wide receiver first filed his lawsuit in July 2014, claiming the defendants downplayed the effects of repetitive head trauma and misrepresented player safety issues about concussions.

His lawsuit claimed Bruce was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion while playing for the Lions in September 2012 and he reported fogginess, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, memory loss, confusion, dizziness, anxiety and personality changes.

Court documents alleged he was permitted to return to play in November of that year and then again for the Alouettes in the 2013 season despite still suffering from the effects of concussion.

The lawsuit stated that the CFL should have intervened and prevented Bruce from returning to the field.

Bruce alleged that he has suffered permanent disability, and his head injury will continue to cause earnings loss along as well as the loss of enjoyment of life.

This is not the first time professional athletes have filed concussion-related lawsuits against their leagues.

More than 4,000 former players successfully sued the NFL for concussion-related problems in 2014 and more than 200 former professional hockey players launched a class-action suit against the NHL the same year.


Arland Bruce, then with the Montreal Alouettes, during a game in Guelph, Ontario. Photo by Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press

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