Landmark class action chases compensation for alleged long-term concussion damage to AFL players | Concussion in sport

A landmark class action lodged in Victoria against the AFL is seeking compensation for the serious damage concussion has allegedly caused former players.

The action, lodged by Margalit Injury Lawyers in the supreme court of Victoria, is on behalf of all professional AFL players who sustained concussion-related injuries through head strikes while playing or training between 1985 and 14 March this year.

The lead plaintiff is Jarad Maxwell Rooke, better known as Max Rooke.

The dual premiership player was employed by the Geelong Football Club between 2001 and October 2010, and played 135 games during that time.

The class action alleges Rooke sustained permanent and life-altering injuries as a result of concussion-related injuries and because of the AFL’s negligence.

More than 60 former players have come forward to join the class action.

They are seeking compensation for pain and suffering, economic loss and medical expenses, Margalit Injury Lawyers said.

“The injuries suffered by this group of former AFL players, as a direct result of the concussions sustained while playing Aussie rules, has had a devastating impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones,’’ the managing principal Michel Margalit said.

“Some of the players who have joined this landmark class action have never been able to hold down a job after leaving the AFL.

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“Their personal lives have been shattered and they live with constant physical and mental pain. It’s heart-breaking and they need to be adequately cared for.’’

The firm is speaking with neurology experts in preparation for them to give evidence in court.

The AFL last year apologised to past players who were “let down” by the league’s concussion research project after an independent review criticised the study.

It was underfunded and under-resourced, the review found, and some AFL players still dumbed down their baseline concussion testing in pre-season to reduce the chance of a concussion diagnosis on game day.

Earlier on Tuesday, the AFL released its updated guidelines for the elite game and strategic plan for sport-related concussion in football.