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NFL wants brain injuries suit dismissed as 'workplace' issue

By Dave Warner

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Lawyers argued in federal court on Tuesday over whether 4,200 former NFL players can sue the league over brain injuries or whether the issue should be decided under the players' collective bargaining agreement.

In what could be a high stakes challenge for both sides, the players want the case heard in court, their attorney David Frederick said on Tuesday. He argued that the league failed to disclose information about the risks of playing football and "glorified violence at the expense of the players."

NFL lawyer Paul Clement, however, called it a "case about workplace safety." He said suing the league is not the way to go since the NFL Players Association has a collective bargaining agreement.

"There is a certain give-and-take with collective bargaining and you don't have the same rights to sue an employer as somebody in a non-unionized industry would have," Clement told reporters outside the court.

The hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody focused on the NFL's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and the judge gave no indication as to when she would decide.

"I will rule when I sort these things out for myself," Brody said.

Outside the court, among those attending dueling press conferences was Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who committed suicide in April 2012 following his diagnosis of a degenerative brain disease that his lawyers said was linked to repeated concussive blows to the head.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson)

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