Court documents lodged on Tuesday show that at least seven former men’s and women’s players are suing the AFL over the long-term effects of concussion injuries sustained while playing.
Here’s what you need to know.
A class action lawsuit is when multiple people sue a defendant for the same or similar reasons. The lead plaintiff in this lawsuit is Max Rooke, who played for the Geelong Cats from 2002 to 2010, and is said to have suffered 20 to 30 concussions during his career.
It’s being alleged the AFL should have been more proactive in preventing continual concussion injuries, and were negligent in their failure to implement measures to prevent head injuries.
While Rooke is the lead plaintiff, the lawsuit is being brought on behalf of players in the AFL (or its VFL predecessor) who suffered a concussion while playing or training from 1985 to March 2023. Players have to opt-in to be part of the class action.
They are seeking damages, legal costs, and interest from the AFL.
It comes as the AFL announced this week changes to its concussion guidelines for the 2023 AFL season, which begins on Thursday.
The new guidelines include stronger precautionary measures for its most at-risk players and a slight change to its formal process for returning to play after an incident.
The AFL has also said it will spend $25 million over the next 10 years on a long-term study that will investigate the impacts of concussion injuries in the sport.
Researching the impacts of sports-related concussions was identified as a priority area for the AFL in its most recent strategic plan. It also included enhancing data collection and building a research network for sports-related concussions.