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12/12/2016
Source: Law360
 

Justices Won't Hear Appeal Over NFL Head Injury Settlement

The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to take another look at an uncapped settlement between former NFL players and the league that would end a long-running dispute over concussions and head injuries, clearing the way for an agreement that could end up paying out up to $1 billion.

A group of more than 30 players had asked the high court to review a unanimous Third Circuit decision earlier this year affirming the settlement. Both the NFL and a larger group of settling players had signed off on the deal. (AP)
In a Monday order list, the high court, without an explanation, denied a challenge by a group of players who claimed the settlement did not go far enough. A group of more than 30 players asked the high court to review a unanimous Third Circuit decision earlier this year affirming the settlement, arguing it leaves out retirees whose chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, afflictions are not yet apparent.

Both the NFL and a larger group of settling players had signed off on the deal, which offered a bottomless fund over a 65-year period to compensate a class of some 22,000 former NFL players. The deal offers payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million for each retired player diagnosed with some of the most serious degenerative conditions connected to traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

In a statement, Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP, a co-lead counsel for the retired players said that the settlement will finally give the former players care and support for their injuries.

“These courageous men and their families, who in the face of great adversity took on the NFL, have made history,” the statement said. “Despite the difficult health situations retired players face today, and that many more will unfortunately face in the future, they can take comfort in the fact that this settlement’s significant and immediate benefits will finally become available to them and last for decades to come.”

Former Buffalo Bills player Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist and another 31 former players had asked for the review. They said the deal suffered from a lack of scientific discovery, as is evidenced by the recent Kevin Turner CTE diagnosis. Turner, a former New England Patriots player, died in March. The condition can still only be diagnosed after a post-mortem analysis of a patient’s brain.

The NFL had also urged the high court not to take up the petitions, claiming that throwing out the settlement would jeopardize the claims of the 20,000 class members who signed on to the agreement.

Representatives for the players who are challenging the settlement and the NFL did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment.

The settling plaintiffs are represented by Seeger Weiss LLP, Anapol Schwartz Weiss Cohan Feldman & Smalley PC and Podhurst Orseck PA, among other firms.

The NFL is represented by Brad S. Karp, Theodore V. Wells Jr., Beth A. Wilkinson, Bruce Birenboim and Lynn B. Bayard of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP and Judy L. Leone and Robert C. Heim of Dechert LLP.

Gilchrist is represented by Cullin O’Brien of Cullin O’Brien Law PA, Jared H. Beck and Elizabeth Lee Beck of Beck & Lee Trial Lawyers, Antonino G. Hernandez of Antonino G. Hernandez PA and Joseph M. Profy, David M. Promisloff and Jeffrey J. Ciarlanto of Profy Promisloff & Ciarlanto PC.

The other petitioners are represented by Richard Coffman of The Coffman Law Firm, Mitchell Toups of Weller Green Toups & Terrell, Jason Webster of The Webster Law Firm and Deepak Gupta, Matthew Wessler and Jonathan Taylor of Gupta Wessler PLLC.

The appeals are Scott Gilchrist et al. v. National Football League et al., case number 16-283, and Raymond Armstrong et al. v. National Football League et al., case number 16-413, at the Supreme Court of the United States.

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