Gramercy native sues NFL in concussion-related case

A Gramercy native who spent time playing with the Baltimore Ravens and had a brief cameo with the New Orleans Saints became one of the latest plaintiffs to file a concussion-related lawsuit against the National Football League.

David Pittman, who prepped at Lutcher High School and is a cornerback in the Canadian Football League, sued the NFL and the helmet manufacturer Riddell on Wednesday in New Orleans’ federal courthouse. He is one of two plaintiffs in the case, joining former Indianapolis Colts defensive back Conrad Clarks, who once played at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Pittman and Clarks allege that they both experienced repeated head trauma while playing in the NFL. Notably, Pittman was knocked unconscious during a Monday Night Football game, and Clarks was knocked unconscious during the 1995 AFC championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to the lawsuit.

Both say they now suffer from anxiety, depression, short-term memory problems, inability to concentrate, mood changes, sleeping problems, dizziness and lightheadedness. They accuse the NFL of not warning them about the dangers of returning to play too quickly after suffering concussions nor the long-term risks of such injuries.

“This lack of warnings was a substantial factor in causing their current injuries,” the lawsuit claims.

Pittman and Clark say more than $75,000 are at stake in their lawsuit, which was filed almost two weeks after the NFL announced it was proposing to settle a similar case involving more than 4,500 former players for $765 million. Riddell wasn’t a part of the proposed settlement.

Another group of ex-NFL players sued the league on the same grounds in New Orleans’ federal courthouse on Sept. 1. Those plaintiffs are Rich Mauti, who played with the Saints from 1977-83; Jimmy Williams, an assistant football coach at Episcopal in Baton Rouge, who played at Vanderbilt and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2001; Nolan Franz, a New Orleans native and member of the Green Bay Packers in 1986; and Jimmy Keyes, a Miami Dolphin in 1968 and 1969.

The Ravens selected Pittman out of Northwestern State in the third round of the 2006 draft. He did not play in his rookie year but tallied 10 tackles and two interceptions in 2007.

The Saints signed Pittman in the middle of the 2008 season, but he was released without appearing in a game. He was also on the Houston Texans for part of the year but didn’t play in a game for them either.

He played in the United Football League as well as the Candian Football League and briefly signed with the Steelers in 2010.

Clarks’ only season in the NFL was the 1995 campaign. The lawsuit says he resides in Georgia, and his NFL.com bio says he was born in Franklin in St. Mary Parish.