Seven former NFL players filed a court motion Monday to challenge the $765 million NFL concussion settlement, arguing that the deal struck between the league and thousands of ex-players who sued it falls short of covering the most serious cases of disease related to head trauma.
The seven players say they are suffering early symptoms of brain disease and that the settlement as constructed will neither compensate them nor other players who suffer the most serious cases of brain-related diseases. Their claim, filed Monday in federal court in Philadelphia, requests that the judge overseeing the case allow them to intervene in the case to represent players they believe have been ignored.
"There are serious problems with what has been proposed," the players' attorney, Steven Molo told "Outside the Lines." "Although these players are suffering serious problems, they will be barred from any compensation if this proposal is ever adopted."
The action is one of many filed by a growing chorus of players who are not satisfied with the terms of the settlement that were first proposed last summer. A committee of lawyers who negotiated the settlement for thousands of players asked Judge Anita Brody in early January for preliminary approval of the deal. Brody was not satisfied with the terms, refusing to approve it until lawyers showed her that the "award fund" for payment of players would have the necessary "funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants."
In the four months since Brody demanded such proof, the players' attorneys have resisted disclosure of the actuarial basis for their proposal amid growing impatience and resistance from players.
The seven players who filed their objections Monday say they are suffering from maladies such as sensitivity to noise, visual impairments, chronic pain, intermittent depression, problems with sleep, memory deficits, and other problems that are precursors to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the now-notorious brain damage that was found in former stars Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, both of whom committed suicide.
Even though the seven players are suffering conditions that could result in CTE in later years, the settlement proposal offers no payments for their conditions and would bar any future claims, they say. The settlement proposal includes a clause that results in all players releasing future claims. The only avenue for these players to collect, Molo said, is to opt out of the settlement and pursue future litigation.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, a player who dies as the result of CTE is entitled to $4 million. But any player who dies from CTE after the approval of the proposal would collect nothing.
For any player to collect compensation before his medical situation reaches the level of CTE, the settlement proposal requires that they suffer from specified levels of dementia. Although his clients suffer from serious and disabling symptoms, Molo said, none of them has reached the stage of dementia that would qualify them for a payment under the settlement proposal.