On Monday, ten former NFL football players filed appeals with the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia asking that the settlement reached between the players and the NFL regarding concussions be thrown out.
The settlement was approved by United States District Court Judge Anita Brody on April 22nd.
The ten players who filed the appeals represent about 1% of the total players involved in the class action against the NFL and about 99% of the class support the settlement reached earlier this year.
The lawsuit was brought by former NFL players who allege that the NFL did not provide them with sufficient warnings regarding the seriousness and lasting effects of multiple concussions. The settlement as it stands provides payments of up to $5 million to players suffering from serious medical conditions associated with multiple concussions.
The basis for the appeal of the settlement is premised upon disparate treatment among players who currently have diseases related to head trauma and those who have yet to suffer from the same diseases. Specifically, the appealing players claim that the settlement unfairly favors currently injured retired players over those simply exposed to head trauma. The appealing players also have issue with how eligibility for payments is calculated.
The settlement potentially leaves 19,000 players who have yet to be diagnosed with neurological conditions and diseases without a remedy. John Pentz, a lawyer representing the objecting players, stated that, “It is the height of hypocrisy for the parties to defend a settlement that offers nothing for [chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”)] to the vast majority of class members by arguing that those claims could not prevail at trial because the science is too new.”
In one of the pleadings filed yesterday with the court, it stated that, “no settlement at all” was better than a settlement offering nothing for the “vast majority” of former players, who “will probably die with evidence of CTE in their brains.”
Despite the good intentions not all members of the class action are happy that some members filed appeals.
Chris Seeger, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, stated that, “These appeals are heartbreaking news for injured retired NFL players who will now be forced to wait many months longer for the care and financial support they desperately need. In fact, no payments will be submitted to players until all appeals are exhausted. Seeger reiterated the fact that greater than 99% of the retired players endorsed and supported the settlement agreement.
Both the NFL and attorneys for the former players who support the agreement have one month to file their objection to the appeals. After that, the appellants will have two weeks to file their rebuttal arguments. A panel of three 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals judges will hear oral arguments by both sides possibly in October. The panel does not have a set time period to rule on the matter, however the judges may push the parties towards mediation in an effort to resolve the matter in a way that all sides compromise.