Former Carolina Panthers receiver Patrick Jeffers re-filed his medical malpractice and negligence lawsuit last week against the Carolina Panthers’ former team doctor. Jeffers had originally brought a medical malpractice claim in 2003 but his lawyers voluntarily dismissed the claim last year. The new medical malpractice lawsuit is virtually identical to the prior claim. Mr. Jeffers’ medical malpractice attorneys allege that Jeffers’ NFL career was “destroyed” as a result of the team doctor adding five unauthorized knee procedures to an Aug. 20, 2000 surgery.
The Panthers were included in the original suit, but a judge ruled that Jeffers’ complaints against the team first needed to go through the NFL’s grievance process because of provisions in the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
I brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against the New England Patriots, their team doctor, and a surgeon who operated on my client about six years ago. The Patriots raised this same defense but did not raise it until we had gone through two years of litigation. The judge ruled that the Patriots had waived their arbitration right by not raising the issue at the appropriate time. The Patriots settled the case shortly after this ruling.
If the court had been presented with the issue in the first instance, as was the case with the Panthers, I think the 45 days statute of limitations in the collective bargaining agreement would control, as unfair as that short of a limitations may be, under Sherwin v. Indianapolis Colts, 752 F. Supp. 1172 (N.Y.D.C 1990).
This was not a huge issue in my medical mistake case against the Patriots’ team doctor but certainly the team doctor faces some unique ethical issues in working for the team and treating its players. The conservative team doctor whose first instinct is to take players out of the game is usually not the team doctor very long. Accordingly, the doctor is being pulled in very different directions.
You are seeing a entirely different spin on this in 2013 with Alex Rodriguez.