VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - Former Canadian Football League wide receiver Arland Bruce claims in court that the CFL failed to warn him of the long-term health effects of concussions he suffered during games and practices.
Thousands of NFL players and retirees have sued the NFL on similar allegations. Bruce's July 16 lawsuit appears to be the first such complaint against the CFL. Unlike many of the U.S. lawsuits, this is not a class action.
Bruce, who briefly played in the NFL, was a wide receiver for the B.C. Lions and the Montreal Alouettes, but is now unemployed. He claims he suffered a concussion that knocked him out for several minutes in a game in September 2012, but was allowed to return to play in November that year, still suffering the ill effects of a head injury.
He claims that the league touts itself as a leader in concussion awareness and prevention, while at the same time glorifying the game's violent traditions.
"Part of the CFL's marketing strategy is to promote and glorify the brutality and ferocity of CFL football, in part, by lauding the most brutal plays and ferocious players and collisions," the complaint states.
In his 14-year career, Bruce claims, he suffered multiple concussions causing personality change, fogginess, headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, memory loss, confusion, dizziness and anxiety.
He claims the defendants "were aware or ought to have been aware that multiple subconcussive and concussive blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injury, including but not limited to memory loss, dementia, depression and [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] and its related symptoms."
Bruce seeks general, special, punitive and aggravated damages.
Named as defendants are CFL Commissioner Mark Steven Cohon, Leo Ezerins, the B.C. Lions Football Club Inc., Edmonton Eskimo Football Club, Calgary Stampeders 2012 Inc., Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club Inc., Winnipeg Blue Bombers, The Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club, Campagnie Club de Football des Alouettes de Montreal, Capital Gridiron LP, Capital Gridiron GP Inc., The Canada Football League (CFL) Alumni Association, Charles H. Tator, and the Krembil Neuroscience Centre.
Bruce is represented by Robyn L. Wishart, with Slater Vecchio in Vancouver.