Jovan Belcher’s mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his team, Kansas City Chiefs, on Tuesday after exhuming the linebacker’s body so that his brain could be examined for evidence of a degenerative condition linked to repeated concussions.
The lawsuit, filed by Cheryl Shepherd in Jackson County (Missouri) circuit court, alleges Jovan Belcher was subjected to “repetitive head trauma,” and that the Chiefs failed to provide adequate medical care before he killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then committed suicide in December 2012.
Cheryl Shepherd is seeking a jury trial and judgment “in excess of $15,000 for actual damages, punitive damages, and/or aggravating circumstances, for the cost of this action, and for such relief as the court deems fair and reasonable”.
Jovan Belcher’s body was exhumed at a cemetery in Bay Shore, New York, at his family’s request earlier this month so that his brain could be studied for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological condition. CTE has been linked to multiple concussions and includes symptoms such as memory problems, behavioral changes and eventually dementia.
CTE has made headlines in recent years with the deaths of some former professional athletes, including former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau and former Bears safety Dave Duerson.
Cheryl Shepherd’s lawsuit claims the Chiefs failed to warn her son of the short-term and long-term risks of concussions; failed to identify and remove Jovan Belcher from practice or games after sustaining head trauma; failed to educate Belcher about concussions; failed to monitor or treat Belcher for neurological dysfunction; and failed to provide appropriate counseling.
According to the lawsuit, Jovan Belcher was knocked unconscious during a game against Jacksonville in 2009 but did not receive adequate treatment before returning to team activities.
On December 1, 2012, Jovan Belcher shot to death his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, while Cheryl Shepherd was caring for his infant daughter in a nearby room. Jovan Belcher then sped from the residence to the Chiefs training facility, where he shot himself in the head in the parking lot.
A spokesman for the Chiefs told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that the team was aware of the lawsuit. He could not comment further because of the pending litigation.
The Chiefs are already the subject of a worker’s compensation lawsuit filed on behalf of several former players who claim the Chiefs hid the risks of permanent brain injuries from repeated concussions from 1987-93, when there was no NFL collective bargaining agreement in place.
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