Former football star Junior Seau’s family sues NFL

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Junior Seau

LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Former linebacker Junior Seau’s family sued the National Football League on Wednesday, claiming his suicide last May was the result of a brain disease caused by violent hits he endured playing the game, the lawsuit said.

Last year, Seau, 43, committed suicide in his bedroom in Oceanside, California, with a gunshot wound to the chest, prompting speculation about whether repeated hits to his helmet over his 20-year pro career could have been a contributing factor.

Earlier this month, Seau was determined to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain disease that can follow multiple hits to the head, the National Institutes of Health said.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, accuses the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc. of wrongful death but doesn’t specify a figure for compensatory and punitive damages. The suit also alleges fraud, negligence and concealment.

The NFL and Riddell could not be immediately reached for comment.

“We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE,” the family said in a statement.

“We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations,” the family said.

More than 1,500 former NFL players are suing the NFL, alleging the league hid the dangers of concussions from them.

The lawsuit was filed by Seau’s children — sons Tyler, Jake and Hunter and daughter Sydney, all of California — and Gina Seau, who is the parent of Jake and Hunter, both of whom are minors. Junior Seau’s estate also is a plaintiff.