A jury in Philadelphia on Monday awarded former Eagles player Chris Maragos $43.5 million after he sued the medical team in charge of treating his injured knee.
Chris Maragos, ex-Eagles captain, awarded $43.5 million in medical malpractice suit
“On Sunday, my team played the Superbowl, and I could only watch and wonder whether I could have been out there with them had I received proper medical care,” the 36-year-old said in a statement. “While I live in constant pain and will never get back on the field, I hope this decision sends a message to teams’ medical staffs that players are people, not just contracts.”
Attorneys for Maragos had contended that after he suffered a right knee injury in an October 2017 game against the Carolina Panthers, he was diagnosed with a torn posterior cruciate ligament, which was surgically repaired by Bradley. Damage to Maragos’s meniscus was ignored, however, the attorneys said, even after a May 2018 MRI exam showed the injury worsening. That development should have kept Bradley and the Rothman rehabilitation team from approving Maragos to progress to greater physical activities, but instead, per his attorneys, the medical team allowed him to place “undue stress” on his knee.
Following that injury, Maragos never again played in an NFL game, and he eventually retired in 2019. During his trial, which included testimony from former Eagles teammates Nick Foles, Trey Burton and Jordan Hicks, a financial analyst reportedly told the jury that having his career cut short cost Maragos at least $8.7 million in future NFL earnings, had he been able to play through 2022.
Members of Maragos’s legal team said in a news release Monday that they “proved at trial that Rothman Orthopaedics created two separate medical charts for Maragos, one of which failed to include key notes about his injury and recovery.”
Two thirds of the $43.5 million was assigned to Bradley, per reports, with the other third made the responsibility of Rothman Orthopaedics.
“This verdict will not bring back Chris’ NFL career, but we are grateful the Maragos family finally got a measure of justice,” attorney Peter J. Flowers said in a statement. “But, this is only the beginning in our effort to demand further accountability for professional sports franchises and ethical treatment for athletes. This jury’s verdict serves as a reminder that any team’s doctor, in any sport, who jeopardizes the well-being of its players due to contractual obligations or financial incentives, will be held accountable for their misconduct.”
A pair of attorneys who represented Bradley and Rothman Orthopaedics did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
During the trial, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, lawyers for the defendants argued Maragos suffered his meniscus injury in a weight-room incident several months after his surgery. They also pointed to the ex-player’s age at the time of his surgery, 31, and eight years in the NFL in suggesting that Maragos’s career was not likely to continue much longer.
Doctors who oversaw his rehabilitation were aware of the meniscus issue, lawyers said, but deemed it “stable” and unlikely to respond well to a surgical procedure.
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“I’m a surgeon — that’s what I do,” Bradley, the head orthopedic surgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers, reportedly testified. “If I had to operate on that, I’d operate on that in a heartbeat.”
Team doctors from several other NFL organizations (per Big Trial) testified in defense of Bradley and his course of treatment.
An attorney for Bradley, John C. Conti, said after the verdict that the timing of the trial had “enormous impact,” given it unfolded as the hometown Eagles were making a run to the Super Bowl.
Maragos, a defensive back and special teams ace whose NFL career began in 2010 as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers, joined the Eagles in 2014 after three years with the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he won the Super Bowl after the 2013 season. He was named a special teams captain at the start of Philadelphia’s 2017 season, during which his injury prevented him from playing in Philadelphia’s only Super Bowl victory, a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots.
During his trial, per the Philadelphia Inquirer, Maragos said his physical impairment meant he was “the only dad who is not out there playing flag football.”
Following the verdict, he said: “We’re really grateful and thankful for the outcome. We had the truth on our side, and the jury saw it.”