Cleveland Browns sued by former center LeCharles Bentley
Published: Thursday, July 22, 2010, 3:22 PM Updated: Thursday, July 22, 2010, 11:00 PM
Tony Grossi, The Plain Dealer Tony Grossi, The Plain Dealer
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lecharles-bentley.jpgTracy Boulian, The Plain DealerLeCharles Bentley meets with reporters in 2008.
Updated with quotes detail, 5:12 p.m. EDT
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Former Browns center LeCharles Bentley, whose playing career ended after complications from staph infection, is suing the Browns for fraud and negligent misrepresentation.
Attorney Shannon Polk said today that Bentley has filed suit in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The case has been assigned to Judge Joseph D. Russo. It asks for in excess of $25,000 for pain and suffering, plus punitive damages.
Bentley is the second former Browns player to sue the team as a result of a staph infection. Receiver Joe Jurevicius reached a settlement in his suit in June. Terms of the settlement were kept confidential.
Jurevicius also named the Cleveland Clinic as a defendant in his suit. Bentley's suit only involves the Cleveland Browns Football Club and Cleveland Browns Holdings, LLC.
Polk, who also represented Jurevicius, said, "The Browns convinced LeCharles to rehab at their facility. Nothing required him to do it. That wasn't part of his job. They told him their facility was the best and that they had successfully helped others. But they never told him about a host of unsanitary conditions there, and they never told him about the list of others who contracted staph before he chose to rehab there.
"Had the Browns disclosed that stuff to him, had they been straight with him, he would have never agreed to rehab at their training facility. The man nearly died from the staph infection he got there."
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Bentley, a Cleveland native who attended St. Ignatius High School and is former star at Ohio State, began his NFL career with the New Orleans Saints. He returned to his hometown in 2006 when he left the Saints as a free agent and signed a six-year contract with the Browns worth a reported $36 million. He never played a down for the Browns.
He suffered a torn patella tendon in his left knee on the first team drill of the 2006 training camp. Bentley had surgery the next day at the Cleveland Clinic to reconstruct the tendon.
The suit says Bentley experienced flu-like symptoms and his left knee became swollen on or about Aug. 22, 2006, and he was diagnosed with staph infection shortly thereafter. It claims Bentley contracted the infection "during his post-operative regimen at the Browns' facility."
Bentley underwent "multiple surgeries and other medical procedures . . . and nearly lost his life," the suit says.
Bentley returned to compete at the team's minicamp in June of 2008. He asked for his release after one practice and never played again.
The suit alleges that the Browns "failed to disclose and actively concealed" from Bentley that "sterile techniques were not used at all times at the Browns training facility, (that) therapy devices . . . were not properly maintained, disinfected or cleaned" and that "equipment and surfaces with which multiple individuals, including Browns players, were routinely in contact were not properly maintained, disinfected, or cleaned, if at all."
The suit says that Bentley's surgical wound was routinely changed and cleaned at the Browns' facility.
Besides Bentley and Jurevicius, other Browns players who had bouts with staph infection from 2003 through 2008 included Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, Brian Russell and Ben Taylor. Winslow has said he had two cases of staph.
Bentley, who now co-hosts a talk show on WKNR AM/850, would not comment on the suit, Polk said.
Neal Gulkis, Browns vice president of media relations, said the team would not comment "at this time."