Former Portland Timbers forward Eddie Johnson has sued the team for $9.9 million in state court, charging that the team allowed him to begin training "while still experiencing symptoms associated with concussion or head injury."
WW has obtained a copy of the suit, filed Wednesday by Johnson against Merritt Paulson's ownership group, Peregrine Sports LLC, as well as the team's medical group and three members of the team's medical staff.
The suit says the concussion ended Johnson's career prematurely.
Johnson has the same name as the Seattle Sounders striker but was a British forward who was one of the Timbers' first four signings upon joining Major League Soccer. His career ended in February 2012 when he suffered his third concussion in less than a year while practicing in California. A ball struck him on the side of the head, then-coach John Spencer told The Oregonian.
The suit says Johnson suffered his first concussion on Aug. 3, 2011, and a second on Aug. 14, 2011. It contends trainers shouldn't have cleared Johnson to practice in February 2012.
"Eddie Johnson did not have a proper evaluation done regarding his previous season-ending concussion or head injury," the suit says, "before being permitted to fully return to play to participate in pre-season professional soccer activities."
The suit says the team and medical staff are to blame for a slew of ongoing medical conditions.
"The negligence... was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff Eddie Johnson to sustain serious and permanent traumatic head and brain injuries, with headaches, memory impairment, cognitive deficits, photophobia, phonophobia, impaired balance, blurred vision, dizziness, sleep difficulties, and fatigue, anxiety and depression. Also as a result of the described injuries, Plaintiff Eddie Johnson has and will continue to suffer loss of function and ability, pain, discomfort, mental suffering, anxiety, and inconvenience and interference with his normal and usual activities."
UPDATE, 4:45 pm: Timbers spokesman Marc Kostic has issued a team statement.
"While we cannot comment publicly on any specific active legal proceeding," Kostic writes, "we can definitively state that the Portland Timbers follow all MLS player health-related protocol and have done so since we joined the league. Additionally, we approach head injuries with extra caution and err on the side of conservatism above and beyond official protocol when dealing with them. We have an expert staff of physicians and trainers and stand by them and their evaluations."