Receiver alleges in lawsuit that CFL didn't protect him from concussion effects
B.C. Lions' Arland Bruce celebrates his touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during the second half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday August 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Monte Stewart, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 17, 2014 8:55PM EDT
VANCOUVER -- Veteran CFL receiver Arland Bruce has launched a suit alleging the league failed to protect him from the adverse effects of a concussion.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, stems from a head injury that Bruce suffered Sept. 29, 2012, while playing for the B.C. Lions against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. The suit says Bruce was knocked unconscious for "several minutes" after being hit by Saskatchewan's Milt Collins.
The statement of claim, which was posted on theconcussionblog.com, contends the CFL failed to provide adequate care for Bruce and misrepresented the dangers that he faced in returning to action, even though -- it says -- the league was aware, or ought to have been aware, that repeat blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injury, including memory loss and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The statement of claim -- which names CFL commissioner Mark Cohon and all CFL teams, among others -- contains allegations that have not been proven in court.
Bruce, 36, is seeking unspecified general, special and punitive damages. He resumed playing for B.C. in November 2012 and played for Montreal in 2013. He is currently a free agent.
"The CFL takes player health and safety very seriously, and (has) consistently taken steps to prevent, assess, and properly treat concussions, through our rules, player education and discipline, medical protocols and procedures," CFL spokesman Jamie Dykstra said via e-mail. "But this particular matter is in the hands of legal counsel and we have no comment at this time."
The lawsuit claims the CFL withheld important information from players. The league is also accused of failing to make a special helmet, which records data on hits to the head during games, mandatory or available throughout the league. According to the statement of claim, the Calgary Stampeders have used the special helmet since 2008.
After suffering his injury in September 2012 with B.C., according to the legal action, Bruce reported fogginess, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, memory loss, confusion, dizziness, anxiety and personality changes. The suit alleges he was permitted to return to play in November of that year and then again in the 2013 season despite still suffering from the effects of concussion.
The lawsuit states that the CFL should have intervened and prevented Bruce from returning to the field.
The lawsuit alleges 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.
"Our pleadings state that Mr. Bruce should not have returned to play," said his lawyer Robyn Wishart in an interview. "The heart of this case is about understanding the effects of multiple concussions and understanding the flow of information and about how that information travels to the players in the CFL."
In addition to B.C., and Montreal, Bruce, a 36-year-old Kansas City, Kan., native, has played for Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton during his 12-year CFL career. In 189 regular- season games, he has recorded 767 receptions for 11,625 yards (15. 2 average) and 97 touchdowns.
Bruce has won two Grey Cups, with B.C. in 2011 and Toronto in 2004.
Bruce's court action comes after approximately 4,500 former players successfully sued the NFL while seeking compensation for their concussion-related problems. Last month, a Pennsylvania judge lifted a cap that pegged total damages at $765 million.