NRL facing concussion class action lawsuit

Zero Tackle

June 26, 2021

Following the NRL’s crackdown on head-high contact this season, the league themselves could be facing sanctions if Sydney businessman Barry Tilley has his way.

According the a report filed by Paul Kent from The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Tilley is on the search for former players impacted by concussion during their careers in a bid to fight ‘city hall’.

Tilley’s prospective class action has been devised as a way for those crippled by concussion to collectively sue the NRL.

Although the wheels are reportedly in motion, the prominent property developer that will be speaking for Mitry lawyers claims that for the lawsuit to have any lasting effect, more players will need to join the cause.

“We need 50 people,” Tilley told Kent.

Despite the aforementioned crackdown on tackles and shots above the shoulders, Tilley was adamant that the moves must be seen as too little, too late from the game’s governing body.

“They haven’t had any decent rules to protect the people that play it,” he said.

Kent retorted this point in his piece by saying that head-high hits had been illegal for the entire history of the code and that players had always been aware of the risks when taking the field.

The scribe also reported that an anonymous former player claimed that many players that still feel the ills of concussion long after they hung up their studded boots couldn’t bring themselves to join Tilley’s crusade.

“Some just can’t bring it in themselves to do it,” the source said.

“They love their club.”

Irrespective of this snub from a fleet of former first-graders, Mitry lawyers spokesperson and partner Rick Mitry explained that many others were keen to become a part of the suit.

“There has been about 15 people talk to me about it and I told them the position and I have been straight upfront with them,” he said.

While Kent cited a potentially outdated pride as the reason why many had turned their back on the class action, Mitry expounded that it was quite often their loved ones that contacted him instead.

“A lot are worried about the media,” the lawyer said.

“I’m not going to leave them high and dry.”

Kent also stated that although the NRL were unaware of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the class action, they had reportedly been preparing themselves for case of this magnitude for some time.

The NRL 360 host raised the fact that the National Football League in America had recently had to pay a $1 billion USD sum to it’s former players due to similar circumstances, so whether the league likes it or not, there is legal precedent.

However, Kent also pointed to the differences in protocol and legal tact employed by lawyers representing the collective of former Gridiron players.

The veteran journalist also cited the fact that due to a myriad of differing factors that can lead to dimentia – such as alcohol intake and genetic disposition – Mitry and Tilley’s case could be a tough one to prove on a collective level.

Due to this, Kent stated that it is the NRL’s wish for players to plead their case on an individual basis so as to determine each instance on its own merits.

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