Ex-Lions RB Best suing NFL, helmet maker

Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is suing the National Football League, helmet maker Riddell and Easton-Bell Sports over concussions, filing the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Best, who was a first-round draft pick for Detroit in 2010, is now out of the NFL after suffering multiple concussions with the Lions before being released in July 2013.

The civil lawsuit can only seek monetary damages and at this point, Best’s attorney, Bret Schnitzer, said he did not have a specific monetary damage being sought.

“The purpose behind the lawsuit, there’s a number of requests of release in the lawsuit,” Schnitzer said. “One of them is to set up a medical fund for Mr. Best in order to deal with future medical conditions out of this concussion syndrome.

“As I am sure you are probably aware through various media and the ‘Frontline’ program and so on, the brain injuries with concussion syndrome does not necessarily manifest itself completely immediately, as you can see from the other cases. Sometimes it is 10, 20 years where the brain injury process takes to develop and it’s not necessarily going to show itself in a 24-, 25-year-old football player to the extent that it might 10, 15, 20 years down the road.

“So one of the goals of the litigation is to protect Mr. Best down the road in terms of his medical condition and problems that he may have in the future.”

Schnitzer said after Best suffered two concussions as a running back at Cal, the NFL still allowed him to become a draft pick. Best’s concussions came as the league was in the midst of changes in concussion protocol and policy, as well as how they were treating concussion syndrome cases.

The NFL had no comment.

Not listed in the suit are the Lions. By Michigan law, Best is limited to suing the team only for worker’s compensation unless he is able to show an “intentional tort,” according to Schnitzer.

Schnitzer said Best has filed a worker’s compensation claim which is pending against the Lions, but he is not his attorney for that case.

Best played 22 games for Detroit in 2010 and 2011, rushing for 945 yards and nine touchdowns along with catching 85 passes for 774 yards and three touchdowns.

The lawsuit was first reported by the Detroit Free Press.

  • Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
  • Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

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