On December 12, 2016, the Supreme Court rejected cleared the way for payouts
of the $1 billion plan by the NFL to settle thousands of concussion lawsuits
filed by former players, starting with those to those who have been diagnosed
with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions. Initially filed in
2011, the class-action lawsuit was originally settled in 2013 for $765
million; however, the federal judge overseeing the case was worried that
amount wouldn’t cover over 20,000 ex-NFL players covered under the
suit, finally revising the settlement in 2015.
Unfortunately, after over a year since the settlement was decided, only
a small percentage of those who have made claims have received monetary
awards. The company charged with administering the claims process submitted
a progress report to U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in November of last
year, stating that more than 17,000 players and their families had registered
and more than 1,400 had submitted monetary awards claims.
Many of those claims have become embroiled in the administrative trappings,
with many former players receiving deficiency notices and others being
completely denied. Some of these players say the claims administrator
nitpicks the claims, such as requests for more paperwork, and unnecessarily
rules them as deficient. However, lawyers working the case claim that
these instances are all part of the process.
Furthermore, one of the main concerns former NFL players and their families
have is that lawyers’ fees will eat heavily into their compensation.
In addition, the attorneys representing NFL players complain about competing
lawyers aggressively poaching their clients, and the complex of opportunist
attorneys, physicians, predatory lenders, and other professionals that
have come out of the woodwork.
As part of the settlement, a $112.5 million fund is set aside to compensate
the lawyers who worked on the case. However, attorneys also have individual
retainer agreements with the plaintiffs they represent, ranging from 15
to 40 percent of their eventual awards. In essence, around half of the
settlement players receive could be subjected to attorneys’ fees.
Lawyers argue that they deserve to be paid for the tens of thousands of
hours of work on the case—with many of those hours done before it
was clear that there was any monetary award to be had at all. Attorney
Christopher Seeger, who only has around 25 clients in the case, believes
the money is appropriate “for the common benefit of the class over
the 65-year life of the settlement.”
For players who haven’t seen their money and don’t know how
much they’ll see, it appears that there is plenty of blame to go
around. Unfortunately, there aren’t many alternatives for these
players to receive the compensation they deserve.
For more information,
contact our Austin personal injury attorney at
The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC today.