By Des Bieler | Washington Post
A severe injury suffered on a “concrete ring of death” in 2015 resulted in a $12.5 million award Tuesday for Reggie Bush. A St. Louis jury ordered the Rams, who played in the city at the time but are now based in Los Angeles, to pay the former running back after finding the team at fault for his torn meniscus.
Bush suffered the injury in a game on Nov. 1, 2015, while playing for the 49ers at the Rams’ stadium in St. Louis, then called the Edward Jones Dome. On a running play, he headed for the sideline and was pushed by a Rams defender just before he went out of bounds; his momentum took him past his team’s bench area and onto a section of concrete that ringed the perimeter of the stadium floor.
Bush slipped and fell backward on the concrete, and he was subsequently diagnosed as having suffered a season-ending tear of the meniscus in his left knee. A 10-year veteran at the time who played in just five games that season, Bush would play just one more NFL season, appearing in 13 games with the Bills in 2016 before retiring.
The former USC star had originally included in his lawsuit St. Louis agencies in charge of the stadium, but they were dismissed by the judge in the case, who ruled that the Rams had control of the facility on game days. The team was ordered to pay him $4.95 million in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in punitive damages, but it has reportedly said it will file a motion for a new trial.
“I’m very happy with the verdict,” Bush told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the ruling Tuesday. “The people spoke and decided very fairly.”
According to reports, the Rams had argued that they could not have reasonably viewed the concrete as a danger because before Bush’s injury, just one similar incident had occurred over 20 years, when then-Browns quarterback Josh McCown slid on the surface the week before and hurt his shoulder when he slammed into the stands. Attorneys for the team also pointed to injuries Bush suffered earlier in his career as having possibly contributed to the meniscus tear, and they noted that the Rams quickly moved to cover the concrete after the injury, showing a concern for safety.
“Football is risky and being pushed out of bounds is a risky part of the game,” Rams lawyer Dan Allmayer said during closing arguments (via the Post-Dispatch). “Reggie Bush is one of the most talented running backs in the NFL. Why didn’t he swerve or do something to avoid the concrete? . . . Why in 20 years had all sorts of running backs who had been pushed out of bounds not reached the concrete?”
On the other side, Tim Cronin, an attorney for Bush, told the court: “Reggie lost his ability to do what he loved, and to bargain for a contract that he worked his entire life for. These players get chewed up. They only have so many chances.”
Bush’s legal team, which had said when filing the lawsuit in January 2016 that the surface in question was “now known by many as the ‘concrete ring of death,’ ” argued that the injury cost him $10-$15 million in future NFL earnings. The incident occurred during the Rams’ final season in St. Louis, after which they moved to Los Angeles, a relocation that caused much acrimony and bitterness toward team owner Stan Kroenke in the city where they had played since 1995.
Rams must pay Reggie Bush for ‘concrete ring of death’ injury