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A Philly jury has awarded $43.5 million to a former Eagles captain suing his doctors over a career-ending knee injury

After less than three hours of deliberations, the jury found Bradley and Rothman negligent in the matter, ordering them to pay the former Eagle $43.5 million.

Former Eagle Chris Maragos is with his wife Serah Maragos (right) and his law team at a Center City restaurant following a jury’s verdict against his doctors, ordering them to pay the ex-NFL All-Pro player $43.5 million.
Former Eagle Chris Maragos is with his wife Serah Maragos (right) and his law team at a Center City restaurant following a jury’s verdict against his doctors, ordering them to pay the ex-NFL All-Pro player $43.5 million.Read moreTom Gralish / Staff Photographer

The doctors for former Eagles team captain Chris Maragos exhibited “medical negligence” in treating the 2017 career-ending knee injury, a Philadelphia jury found Monday, ordering them to pay the ex-NFL All-Pro player $43.5 million.

Shortly after his 2019 retirement from the NFL, Maragos sued his acclaimed Pittsburgh-based surgeon, James Bradley, and Rothman Orthopaedics Institute, whose physicians serve as the Eagles’ orthopedic doctors and who oversaw Maragos’ knee surgery rehabilitation.

The lawsuit alleged the special teams ace’s NFL run was cut short by “medical negligence” from his doctors who operated on and rehabilitated Maragos’ torn posterior cruciate ligament following an injury during the Eagles 2017-18 Super Bowl season. While addressing his PCL, the doctors, Maragos’ attorneys say, ignored damage to the player’s meniscus — leading to a premature end to his professional career, and causing ongoing knee issues.

» READ MORE: A former Eagles captain is suing his doctors in Philly court over a career-ending knee injury. Here's what you should know.

Attorneys for Bradley and Rothman denied the allegations, saying that they were cognizant of Maragos’ meniscus tear, but that the tissue was “stable” and that surgery would have caused more harm than good.

After less than three hours of deliberations, the 12-member panel found Bradley and Rothman negligent, ordering Bradley to pay roughly $29.2 million to the former NFL player, and Rothman to pay around $14.3 million.

As the foreperson read the verdict, Maragos and his wife, Serah, embraced, quietly crying. After the jury concluded, the couple stood, hugging each other and their attorneys.

Outside the courtroom, Chris and Serah Maragos hugged the jurors in the City Hall hallway, thanking them. “Thank you for fighting the man,” one juror told them.

“We’re really grateful and thankful for the outcome,” Maragos told The Inquirer outside the courtroom. “We had the truth on our side and the jury saw it.”

In a statement, Maragos’ attorney, Dion G. Rassias, said that “this case and this jury may have changed the course of history by now forcing these team doctors and trainers to stop worrying about when a player might return to play and start thinking about the next 50 years of a player’s life.”

The verdict comes following a star-studded, two-week trial before Common Pleas Judge Charles J. Cunningham III, featuring testimony from former Eagles stars Nick Foles, Trey Burton, and Jordan Hicks, and amid the Eagles’ run-up to Super Bowl LVII.

» READ MORE: Nick Foles and other 2018 Super Bowl champs testify in Philly court for ex-Eagles captain suing his doctors

In acute detail, jurors were shown reams of doctor’s notes, MRIs, medical charts, a video of a surgery, and a photo taken from inside Maragos’ knee as the lawyers sparred over the treatment of his meniscus during surgery and rehabilitation.

From the witness stand, Maragos, 36, told the jury about life following his 2019 retirement, the two knee surgeries he had following the one performed by Bradley, how he is looking into a knee replacement, and the pain he faces in daily activities.

“I’m the only dad who is not out there playing flag football,” he said.

» READ MORE: Ex-Eagles captain Chris Maragos is suing his doctors in Philly court. Here are the types of knee injuries tackled in the trial.

Serah Maragos, too, told jurors her husband’s decline was “devastating.”

“I watched someone that was confident and strong and secure completely deteriorate,” she testified. “You watch someone ... from being a professional athlete to being unable to get up without a limp.”

Bradley — who has operated on the knees of high-profile NFL players and served more than 30 years as a team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers — told the jury that he was using his judgment when Maragos came to him in 2017, and that if the player needed a second surgery, “I would have done it.”

» READ MORE: Carson Wentz's surgeon, James Bradley, is an innovator well-known for work with athletes

“I’m a surgeon, that’s what I do,” he testified. “If I had to operate on that, I’d operate on that in a heartbeat.”

Two of Maragos’ Eagles doctors defended their actions during the player’s rehabilitation, and a Houston Texans team physician testified he believed the safety was treated appropriately.

Attorneys for Rothman and Bradley also argued that Maragos was healing well from his PCL reconstruction, and that damage to his meniscus was caused in a separate instance in the weight room months after the surgery. Furthermore, they contended Maragos had a lengthy eight-year run in the NFL — more than double the average NFL career of 3.3 years — and that, at 31, with Maragos’ arthritis and bowed legs as well as the injury, the doctors could not do more to extend his professional career.

“Unfortunately,” Rothman attorney Melissa L. Mazur told the jury at the start of the trial, “[Maragos] just had a really, really bad injury that he couldn’t come back from.” Leaving the courtroom Monday, attorneys for Rothman declined to comment.

John C. Conti, who represented Bradley in the trial, said that while he “very much respect[s] the jury’s verdict and of course wish[s] the best for Serah and Chris,” he believes that the doctors couldn’t have prevented the injury “no matter what they did.” Conti added that the timing of the trial, between the Eagles’ NFC championship and Super Bowl loss, as well as the star-studded witness list, had “enormous impact.”

“That’s an awful strong tide to swim against,” he said.

For Maragos, the verdict is the first step in putting the injury behind him. From the stand, he told the jury that he has had trouble trusting people, and that mistrust also shaped his marriage.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done between the relationship between my wife and I, and our kids, and me physically,” he said outside the courtroom Monday. “This is just a start of a long road ahead unfortunately, but definitely a stepping stone.”