Category Archives: Brain Injuries

How Jason Luckasevic’s crusade against concussions is making a difference

To be a pioneer means to be the first to recognize a problem or situation and work to develop a solution. Often mocked and misunderstood, pioneers face an uphill battle to prove the worth of what they’re trying to accomplish.

At Goldberg, Persky & White, we pride ourselves on being pioneers in the field of asbestos litigation. For more than 30 years, we’ve been on a journey toward compensating those injured by asbestos. Before companies admitted responsibility and awareness of the dangers, we were fighting for working men and women.

This spirit is something we admire in Jason Luckasevic, a shareholder at GPW.

Almost a decade ago, Jason learned about the connection between the NFL and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from family friend and forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu and began working on a case shortly after. In 2011, he became the first attorney to file against the NFL, accusing the League of hiding the dangerous effects associated with playing.

In the years since, the lawsuit gained momentum and was joined by attorneys around the United States. This groundbreaking case changed the game and made people realize the long-term effects of repeated concussions. Football teams, from youth leagues to college to professional levels, are finally paying attention to research and making changes.

Now as the fairness hearing approaches for the NFL concussion settlement, many are recognizing Jason and his clients for their persistence. He’s no stranger to media interviews and publicity associated with the settlement.

Recently, Jason was recognized in a New York Times Magazine cover story for his fight: “How One Lawyer’s Crusade Could Change Football.”

“The New York Times article was very powerful and an accurate recounting of the events; however, there is so much more to share. Be sure to stay tuned,” Jason added mysteriously.

While the settlement isn’t perfect, Jason recognizes the strides made to help the players and the groundbreaking nature of the lawsuit.

“This case may go down in history as one of the most famous civil litigations of all time because it involves professional athletes and the most famous sport in America,” Jason said. “I am proud to go down in history as the lawyer who started it all. I feel personally vindicated because there were many doubters.”

From this experience to his involvement on the Brain Injury Awareness Association of Pennsylvania board, Jason credits the most satisfying feeling as “saving lives due to the awareness regarding brain injury and concussion.”

Since the article published online last Thursday, hundreds of Twitter users have embraced and shared the story by Michael Sokolove. Many added personal comments, reflecting on the amazing tale and applauding Jason for his perseverance and the difference he’s making.

To stay up to date with Jason, follow him on Twitter at @JasonLuckasevic or visit our sports brain injury website.

[This post originally appeared on Goldberg, Persky & White’s website,]

How One Lawyer’s Crusade Could Change Football Forever- NY Times

mag-09Football-t_CA1-articleLargeThank you to Michael Sokolove for writing such a powerful piece about the long road to making a settlement from the NFL a reality.




There are 1.27 million lawyers in the United States, one for about every 300 Americans — about 400,000 more of them than there are doctors. Their work is rarely glamorous, and especially for those just starting out in the profession, it can be grinding and repetitive. Jason Luckasevic, hired out of law school in 2000 by a firm in Pittsburgh, passed the bar exam on his first try and was quickly sworn in to practice. The ceremony, such as it was, took place on a Thursday in a clerk’s office, rather than in a courtroom in front of family and friends, because his bosses needed him to get started. The following Monday morning, he drove to Johnstown, about 90 minutes away, where he spent the day taking depositions from former employees of an enormous steel plant that had exposed them to asbestos. Late that afternoon, he climbed back into his Honda Civic and headed home. He repeated this routine for the next six months, five days a week, racking up some 400 depositions and about 20,000 miles on the road.

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Is football too embedded in our culture?

Earlier this morning, NPR released a segment about football and it’s role in American culture. Sports like baseball and basketball are based on skill and agility, but playing football is about being a man and being tough.

Baseball and basketball games happen daily, but football is reserved for the weekend and associated with dances, celebrations and parties. The macho boys, pretty cheerleaders and marching band halftime shows create this whole different culture from other sports.

The last statement of the article raised an interesting point:

“That is surely why, for all the evidence now of how football batters male brains, it seems practically invulnerable to change. Football is simply too embedded in our American calendar, in our American culture, and in our American blood — and guts.” – Frank Deford

Football is a part of America, no doubt about that. We watch week after week, enjoying the big hits and exciting plays. Reveling in the upsets and rooting for our favorite team to advance to playoffs.

In Pittsburgh, being a Steelers fan is practically a requirement.

We dismiss Todd Haley and his terrible offense. We insult Ben’s performance and call him old. We praise Ben’s agility and ability to hold on the ball and call him one of the best in the League. We silently question if Troy is getting old and then erase that thought after his next amazing play.

We watch our players receive and cause concussions.

It’s not intentional, especially now with all the rules about hits to and with the head, but they happen nonetheless. Every week we hear about more players suffering and more potential concussions missed.

Even with the publicity about the damaging effects of hits in football, millions still watch. There are no boycotts, no cries of injustice. The game continues, remaining a staple in the lives of people across the United States.

Will we let football change?


  • Frank Deford, “Americana: Hot dogs, apple pie and football?” NPR (Nov. 5, 2014). [Link]

The escalating effects of head injuries for football players

Tom Cutinella’s football game Wednesday, October 1, probably began like any other. The guard/linebacker took the field amidst cheers from the crowd, ready to take on the opponent.

Everything changed during the third quarter as his team fought to keep their 17 to 12 lead. The same roaring crowd fell silent as Cutinella, a junior in high school, collapsed after a big hit with a member of the opposing team. Hours later he died in the hospital.

Head injuries in football continue to make headlines across all ages. Parents of youth football players debate whether it’s safe for their child to play in the contact sport. College players are beginning to see the risks and quitting after a few concussions. More and more retired professional players are posthumously diagnosed with CTE and current professional players are increasingly violent.

After years of denial, the National Football League (NFL) recently admitted repeated head trauma from playing can result in long-term diseases, including Alzheimer’s, ALS and CTE. In fact, the League estimates 1 in 3 players have a higher chance of developing a neurodegenerative disease than their counterparts who don’t play football.

Researchers at the Department of Veteran Affairs’ brain repository in Massachusetts found 76 of the 79 brains from former players had CTE. In another study, 128 football players donated their brains, many with suspicion they suffered from the disease. Almost 80 percent of the sample tested positive for CTE. These brains came from footballers who played at high school, college or professional levels.

CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is the result of repeated head trauma. The brain begins the production of an abnormal protein, tau, which interrupts normal brain function before eventually killing the cells. Symptoms range from depression to dementia. It changes the mind of its victim.

About two years ago, Jovan Belcher, a former Kansas City Chief, killed his girlfriend and then shot himself in front of the teams’ then trainer and coach. His autopsy revealed the presence of CTE. Former Steeler and Hall of Famer Mike Webster was completely unrecognizable before he died of a heart attack at age 50.

Many are now connecting the NFL’s concussion issues to its domestic violence issues. While the two cannot be definitively paired, research confirms the longer someone plays, the heightened chance of long-term brain injury, which leads to bouts of rage and increased aggression.

These potential problems begin young, as the NFL helps fund youth football programs with a reported $45 million per year. Heads Up USA tries to teach proper tackling to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury, but there’s no research that supports a different style of tackling is any safer.

Football is an American pastime, but it’s cutting too many lives short. How much longer can football as we know survive?

[This post originally appeared on]


Breslow, J. M. (2014). 76 of 79 deceased NFL players found to have brain disease. PBS. [Link]

Dowdy, Z. R. et. al. (2014). Tom Cutinella, Shoreham-Wading River HS football player, dead after injury in game, authorities say. Newsday. [Link]

Draper, B. (2014). Autopsy shows Chiefs LB Belcher had CTE damage. Yahoo Sports. [Link]

Jenkins, S. (2014). NFL must pay for its handling of concussion issues- or Congress should intervene. The Washington Post. [Link]