I think Megan McArdle is being naive about the tort system in this country when she writes
So Junior Seau's family is suing the NFL over head injuries, which lead to chronic brain damage, and possibly his suicide.
But this lawsuit strikes me as pretty out there. Junior Seau can't possibly have been unaware that football caused head injuries. Nor even that multiple concussions are probably bad for you. Note how many people are still playing, even though we now know this all too well.
Really? I know of cases where people have successfully sued for drownings that occurred within feet of a no swimming sign. I could easily ask if there are really people unaware that water can cause drownings. Any sense of individual responsibility has been stripped from the tort system, such that it has become a way for folks who had bad outcomes of some sort to cash in from deeper pockets, irrespective of any reasonable sense of justice.
The NFL knows this and is clearly running scared. How do we know? Just look at Saints coach Sean Payton, who just went back to work after a one year suspension, a historically really large penalty for a coach. He was accused of tangential association with a bounty system players and coaches had in place for great plays that may also have been a bounty system for injuring opposing players. The NFL knows this goes on all the time, but must now prepare for the day they are in court getting sued for having an unsafe work environment. They do not want a case based on negligence to be made far worse by accusations that the league was actively promoting behavior that created injuries. So they threw the book at him. The other folks who were suspended threatened the NFL with suits for all sorts of due process errors, but the NFL didn't care. They can survive a judgement on an unjustified suspension of one or two players. They cannot survive a judgement on causing hundreds to have brain damage.
Quoting from Walter Olson, who spends most of his time studying the tort system in this country:
if subjected to the same injury liability rules that American courts apply to other businesses, organized football is unlikely to survive.