Tag Archive for NFL Concussion

A New Film Starring Will Smith Takes On NFL Concussion Issue

football helmetIf the latest film the actor Will Smith is starring in becomes a hit, it will continue to keep the NFL Concussion issue in the headlines for a long time. The film titled “Concussion” will focus around the doctor who first discovered the effects some football players experienced as a result of playing football. The film follows the doctor played by Will Smith and his journey in exposing the problem and the push back he received when he sought to expose it. In reality, the doctor (Dr. Bennet Omalu), who discovered and exposed Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (C.T.E.) dealt with many issues including being criticized and discredited for what his work showed. Omalu’s story has been covered by numerous outlets like the New York Times, PBS’s Frontline, ESPN’s Outside The Lines, and HBO’s Real Sports With Brian Gumbel.

Initially, the NFL settled with plaintiffs from the lawsuit for $765 million with additional compensation for medical benefits and concussion testing, but the judge wasn’t satisfied and the cap of $765 million was dropped with the other parts of the settlement still in place. Arguably, that settlement wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for the findings of Dr. Omalu. Omalu is currently a Volunteer Associate Clinical Professor for the University of California, Davis, the Chief Medical Examiner of San Joaquin County in California, and the President of Bennet Omalu Pathology. In certain respects, Omalu can be considered a whistleblower because of his findings and his willingness to reveal them to the general public. The NFL is arguably the most popular and profitable sport in the United States. His findings threatened the entire league and its future and his fight to expose the truth is covered in the movie “Concussion”. In addition to threatening the league, Omalu’s findings sparked an ongoing discussion among fans and parents of children who play in little league, high school, and college. If those parents decided to prevent or stop their child from playing football that would be detrimental to the league.

The settlement was eventually approved by the Judge with a majority of plaintiffs being satisfied with the deal. Even though there are a some objectors and lawsuits aside from this settlement proceeding against the NFL, most agree that the settlement is good for the plaintiffs. A trial would have been long and drawn out and would bring some uncertainties. The film “Concussion” is expected to be released in December 2015.

As Football Reigns, Take A Minute To Remember The Impact Of Concussions On Current And Former Players

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As new seasons for both the National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) commence, this season is a bit different than past seasons since they start in the shadow of huge concussion related settlements. The excitement for football can be encompassing. But it should not be forgotten that the issue of concussions still looms over the sport and both organizations.

While the settlements both deal with the issue of concussions, they differ in detail. The NCAA settlement was for $70 million, and most of that money is designated for research on concussions. The NFL settled for $765 million, but that cap has since been lifted. Most of the money from that settlement will compensate the plaintiffs, who were former players, and will also go towards baseline testing, medical research, and education.

So as football takes over the nation, the plaintiffs and their advocates who pushed the issue of concussions to the forefront by litigating it in the court of law and the court of public opinion should be remembered and applauded for their bravery in the face of very strong opposition.

Sources:

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000363672/article/federal-judge-approves-nfl-concussion-settlement

http://www.ncaa.com/news/ncaa/article/2014-07-29/ncaa-reaches-proposed-settlement-concussion-lawsuit

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Written by Lulaine Compere

NFL Settlement Cap Removed; Deal Better for Both Sides

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The ongoing litigation involving former NFL players whose game-related head injuries have led to or may lead to cognitive and neurological damage has recently reached a tentative deal that makes concessions to both the former players and the NFL. This deal uncaps the damages fund allocated to former NFL players who will require future medical treatments, yet will allow the NFL more discretion in deciding which claims are deserving of attention.

Now that the cap is removed from the tentative settlement, at least $765 million will be set aside to cover future medical costs of the 20,000 retired NFL players who may be affected by game-related concussions and head traumas. The amount of money allocated to each player will be determined by a “compensation grid [, which] weighs a man’s age, cognitive condition and NFL experience. A young retiree with Lou Gehrig’s disease would receive $5 million, a 50-year-old with Alzheimer’s disease $1.6 million, and an 80-year-old with mild dementia $25,000. Those numbers are discounted for those who played fewer than five years.”

The concession fund is intended to exist as a potentially refillable account that will cover current and future NFL players who, under the allegations of this case, were not properly warned about the dangers of head traumas. Brett Romberg, who played center for Jacksonville, St. Louis and Atlanta between 2003 and 2011, claimed that the most protection players received was painkillers from the trainers.

According to New Jersey attorney Craig Nitnick, who represents approximately 1,400 of the players involved in the lawsuit, lifting the cap off of the settlement amount allows the fund to act as a sort of insurance policy for former players. “They’re protected,” he says of players whose symptoms have not developed fully, but who may see more serious diagnoses in the future. “They may not get financial recovery right now, but as soon as those symptoms get any worse…they will be financially compensated and medically treated.”

The tentative settlement now also includes terms that would allow plaintiffs to participate in suits involving other professional football associations for a failure to adequately warn players about the dangers of concussions and head traumas. This is significant, as there is currently a lawsuit against the National Federation of State High School Associations for this reason. Because of this, and because of the concessions granted to both the plaintiffs and the defendants, it seems more likely that Judge Anita Brody will sign off on the most recent terms of the settlement.

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Written by Shayna Keyles

Are Attorneys In The NFL Case Taking Away From Plaintiffs?

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The much publicized NFL settlement with its former players has recently been criticized by Roger Groves from the Florida Coastal School of Law not for its legal merits, but for the portion of the settlement that will be set aside to finance attorneys who worked on the case.

The NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement with former players who sued because they alleged they had not been adequately warned of the dangers of concussion, and as such, deserved compensation for past injuries and funds for future medical expenses related to past head trauma. Attorneys who worked this case are due to receive $254 million.

While this first NFL case has settled, there is another awaiting litigation. Groves’ opinion is written mainly on behalf of these new plaintiffs, who are “salt-of-the-earth players, not the multi-million dollar stars you’ve heard of.” They, too, are suing the NFL for much needed medical compensation.

Typically, in contingency fee cases, attorneys receive 33% of the settlement amount to reimburse any costs associated with the case and compensate individual work hours. Groves points out the significance of this amount, especially when one realizes that the initial settlement amount was increased to ensure plaintiffs would have enough funds to cover future costs.

The problem here is, according to Groves, that the attorneys’ fee is so large that it effectively reduces the amount of funding the plaintiffs would receive for future care. Plaintiffs in this case are patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, various stages of dementia, and other issues related to head trauma. Future expenses can significantly add up.

Groves understands the costs associated with litigating a case, having himself been a part of the legal world for years. However, he proposes that, like the multitude of civil rights attorneys, immigration lawyers, and others who have been eliciting change and helping others for decades, the attorneys involved in the NFL suit sacrifice some of their fee to help the players.

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Written by Shayna Keyles