An attorney for Korey Stringer’s widow says she will sue the NFL on Monday, alleging that the league’s policies led to Stringer’s heatstroke death during training camp in 2001.
Kelci Stringer’s suit will also name football helmet maker Riddell Sports Group Inc., and some NFL medical advisers. The federal lawsuit will include a wrongful death claim on behalf of Stringer’s widow and son and a class action claim on behalf of all NFL players.
“What’s on trial here is the rules and procedures and the culture” of the NFL. “Frankly, it’s no coincidence that the average football player in the NFL plays for 4 1/2 years. They use them up and spit them out.”
Stringer collapsed during training camp on July 31, 2001, in sweltering heat and humidity. The 335-pound Pro Bowl lineman’s body temperature was 108.8 degrees when he arrived at a hospital. He died 15 hours later.
Phone messages left with an NFL spokesman and Riddell were not immediately returned.
Kelci Stringer had already filed a $100 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the Vikings and the team’s training camp physician, David Knowles. In April, a Hennepin County District Court judge dismissed Kelci Stringer’s claims against the team. She later settled with Knowles for an undisclosed sum. At the time, her attorneys said they planned to ask the state appeals court to reinstate the claims against the Vikings.
The issues in the new lawsuit are different, Stringer’s attorney said. The suit against the team stumbled because the law limits how much Stringer’s widow could get from his employer, the Vikings.
Before training camp opened in 2002, the NFL consulted with several experts and held a series of discussions and seminars on the subject. The league banned the herbal stimulant ephedra, and it began randomly testing players for it last summer after learning that dietary supplements increased the risk of heat-related illnesses.
A bottle of Ripped Fuel, which contains ephedra, was found in Stringer’s locker after he died. Stringer’s body wasn’t tested for the substance during investigations into his death.