Local concussion lawsuits consolidated with master case

Two concussion lawsuits recently filed against the NFL by local former players have been consolidated with a master case involving more than 4,500 plaintiffs that the league has proposed to settle for $765 million.

A suit brought by David Pittman and Conrad Clarks to New Orleans’ federal courthouse transferred Tuesday to the Philadelphia courtroom of U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, who’s presiding over the master case. The same happened Sept. 17 with a separate suit launched in New Orleans by Rich Mauti, Jimmy Williams, Nolan Franz and Jimmy Keyes, as well as the spouses of three of them, according to court filings.

Pittman, Clarks, Mauti, Williams, Franz and Keyes all say they experienced repeated head trauma during their NFL careers. They accuse the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell of not warning them about the dangers of returning to play too quickly after sustaining concussions nor the long-term risks of such injuries in order to protect the league’s multibillion-dollar business.

Pittman and Clarks say they suffer from anxiety, depression, short-term memory problems, inability to concentrate, mood changes, sleeping problems, dizziness and lightheadedness. The others say they have had memory and cognitive problems and multiple economic losses.

The wives of Williams, Mauti and Keyes allege that the NFL deprived them “of the services, society and companionship of their husbands.” All of the plaintiffs say the league’s failure to be upfront about head trauma associated with the game is to blame for their issues.

Williams, Mauti, Franz and Keyes lodged their lawsuit Sept. 1, three days after the NFL announced the proposed settlement. Pittman and Clarks sued Sept. 11.

The settlement proposal does not include Riddell, and plaintiffs can opt out of it to pursue damages individually.

Mauti, a wide receiver, played with the New Orleans Saints from 1977-83 and with Washington for one season after that. He is a real estate broker in Mandeville, and one of his sons, Michael, is a rookie linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings.

Williams, a defensive back and return specialist, played for the Buffalo Bills, the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans between 2001-08. He went to Episcopal in Baton Rouge, where he’s an assistant football coach.

Pittman, a Gramercy native who prepped at Lutcher High School and attended Northwestern State, played seven games for the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. He spent some time with the Saints and the Texans but didn’t play in a game for either team.

Franz, a New Orleans native, was a member of the Green Bay Packers in 1986. Clarks once played at Louisiana-Monroe and was on the Indianapolis Colts in 1995. Keyes, listed as a linebacker and kicker, was a Miami Dolphin in 1968 and 1969.