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December 22, 2015

‘Concussion’ movie is the result of the NFL concussion litigation

This Friday, ‘Concussion’ is premiering nationwide. The film, starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, details Dr. Omalu’s discovery in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster that eventually led to the NFL concussion litigation. Despite the massive scale of the case, it hits home for the employees of Goldberg, Persky & White.

After Dr. Omalu discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in the brain of Webster, he tried to make his research known while the NFL dismissed his claims. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated concussive or sub-concussive blows. Generally appearing decades after the trauma, its victims will experience dementia-like symptoms, including depression, confusion, aggression and memory loss.

Concussions were known to be temporarily dangerous, but Dr. Omalu’s findings showed that repeated blows to the head led to even more disastrous consequences.

When the NFL tried to refute his research, his friend Jason Luckasevic asked what Dr. Omalu was going to do. This conversation, held at GPW offices, led to Luckasevic beginning his work to fight the NFL. Because the NFL is a billion dollar a year industry, some attorneys at GPW were hesitant to take on the league without support from other firms.

“It’s a risk, pursuing a case like this alone against an entity like the NFL so it was natural to have reservations,” said Attorney Dave Chervenick, shareholder at GPW. “Jason continued to work hard for what he believed in and now what he did is receiving national recognition.”

Luckasevic saw the movie when it premiered in Pittsburgh Tuesday, Dec. 15. While a feature of the book Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas, he wasn’t included in the movie because it focuses on what happened before he filed the first lawsuit in 2011.

“It was a good movie, although sensationalized, that will last to remind people about the dangers of concussions,” said Luckasevic. “What it fails to do is include the NFL concussion litigation that served as the tipping point. It changed the conversation.”

Current and former NFL players have attended screenings, and the results are almost universally thought provoking. Some current players don’t have plans to quit, but the movie helped show them the long-term consequences. Others wish they never played the game at all.

For everyone at GPW, it’s a celebration of sorts for our continued work and the knowledge that many are now considering the risks of football. More advancements are happening to keep players safe because of the crusading work of Dr. Omalu and Luckasevic. We encourage everyone to take some time during the holiday season to see ‘Concussion.’

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