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Former Rough Riders In Concussion Lawsuit Against CFL

Ex-Ottawa Rough Riders join CFL concussion lawsuit seeking $200 million.

Families of former Ottawa Rough Riders Gary Schreider and Dennis Duncan, and retired Canadian Football League player Mike Webster, have joined a class-action lawsuit against the CFL claiming damages for concussions and brain trauma. Gary Schreider was a Rough Riders linebacker, running back and kicker from 1956-61 and 1963-64, sandwiched around 1962 stints with the B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while Dennis Duncan was an Ottawa running back in 1971 after three seasons with the Montreal Alouettes. Mike Webster, a lineman for the Lions in 1966 and the Alouettes in 1967-70, has also joined the class action that previously included Korey Banks, Eric Allen, Alondra Johnson and the family of Rod Woodward. The concussion lawsuit seeks $200 million in damages for all former CFL players who have participated in practices and games since 1952. It claims the CFL, its teams, former commissioner Mark Cohon, brain-injury specialist Dr. Charles Tator and the Krembil Neuroscience Centre of Toronto knew or should have known about the long-term risk of brain injury resulting from concussive and sub-concussive blows. Those claims have not been tested or proven in court. Schreider died in January 2011 at the age of 76, several years after he was nudged into retirement as a master of Ontario Superior Court. His son, Gary Schreider Jr., said Friday the man who was the first CFL Players' Association president had displayed increasingly severe symptoms of brain-related problems starting in his mid to late 50s. The younger Schreider said he and his mother contacted Robyn Wishart, a Vancouver lawyer representing the class-action participants as well as former CFL receiver Arland Bruce in another concussion-related lawsuit, after reading an Ottawa Citizen story about Woodward in December. "The motivation is getting the message out and to help (former) players that are suffering through this, to get the message out there because I think this was basically hidden from players for the longest time," Schreider said. "So people are aware of this when they play football and let them make their own decisions. I'm not saying stop playing football. Just let people make their own decisions based on what we know now." "I don't really have anything to hide," former CFLer Mike Webster, who sat between Duncan and Woodward in the locker room with the 1969 Alouettes, said Friday. Webster said he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury a year ago after collapsing while at work at a military hospital on Vancouver Island. He still practises, but under supervision by the College of Psychologists of British Columbia. "I don't care if I get a penny out of (the lawsuit)," Webster added. "I would just like to do that for guys I played with and against. ... Luckily at present I'm not as severe as many of my teammates. I've got Roddy Woodward in mind when I say that." Woodward, who spent most of his CFL career as a defensive back and punt returner for the Rough Riders, was recently admitted to hospital. Wishart said Friday the 71-year-old likely would never be discharged and would eventually be transferred to a long-term care facility. The class-action proceeding is on hold pending a decision in Bruce's lawsuit against the league, Cohon, Tator, Krembil Neuroscience Centre and the CFL Alumni Association and its president, Leo Ezerins. The original judge in that case has withdrawn because of illness, so the chief justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia will hear a fourth day of arguments on Feb. 23. Bruce is seeking to have his day in court, while a lawyer for Cohon and the league argue the case should be heard by an arbitrator because CFL players are represented by a union. "There is no urgency for us," Schreider said of his family, "but I do know there is plenty of urgency with other former players who are suffering now." Originally posted by Gord Holder on Concussion Lawsuit - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

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