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Jovan Belcher's mother sues Chiefs for wrongful death

Cheryl Shepherd alleges repeated head trauma caused her son traumatic brain injuries, leading to his suicide in 2012.

Jamie Squire

Jovan Belcher's mother filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star. The lawsuit comes nearly 13 months after the former Kansas City linebacker killed his girlfriend then himself.

The suit filed by Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, alleges Belcher was exposed to "repetitive head trauma" and "suffered multiple concussive and subconcussive blows to the head which caused or contributed to cause a a (sic) constellation of neurologic/brain harms, including post concussion syndrome ... and traumatic brain injuries, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)," according to the Kansas City Star report.

The laswuit also alleges the Chiefs were, or should have been, aware that Belcher showed signs of cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment. Belcher's body was exhumed earlier this month at the request of his family to test his brain for evidence of CTE. The suit alleges Belcher did not receive adequate medical care, including after a concussion he suffered in 2012.

Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli is accused of engaging in mental abuse. Via the Kansas City Star:

According to the suit, former Chiefs general manger Scott Pioli and other Chiefs officials "engaged in mental abuse to ‘motivate'" Belcher to play through his injuries. The suit alleges that Belcher was told "he was just an accident, and they would get rid of him" - treatment the suit labels "constant bullying pressure and stress" that, coupled with Belcher's concussion issues, "caused or contributed to cause (him) to become insane."

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $15,000 at a jury trial. The Chiefs were sued on four counts, including that they were negligent in maintaining a safe working environment, that they told Belcher his mental health issues were not related to football head trauma, that they knew CTE was a risk but concealed the information from Belcher and that they wrongfully contributed to his death.

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