NFL Makes Moves in Concussion Litigation

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After a $765 million settlement between the NFL and a group of former players over long-term health concerns resulting from concussions was rejected by a judge in Pennsylvania, yet another class-action suit by former NFL players has been stayed, pending an attempted move by the NFL to transfer the case to multidistrict litigation in the same court.


The new case, filed by the estate of the late Pro Football Hall of Famer, Mike Webster, and 66 other plaintiffs, was originally filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in California and then removed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Webster played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs from the mid-1970s until 1990.  After his death in 2002, an autopsy revealed that Webster suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which may have been linked to head trauma sustained while playing professional football.


The NFL is attempting to combine the Webster suit with other cases in a massive multi-district litigation. There are currently more than 200 lawsuits currently pending against the NFL, by more than 4,100 former players, which have been consolidated and are being overseen by Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


These lawsuits concern former players who received concussions while playing professional football. The plaintiffs have continued to argue that the effects of the concussions and the dangers of multiple concussions were not disclosed to them while playing for the NFL. They also say the helmets they played with provided inadequate protection.


Judge Brody rejected the $756 million in January 2014, ruling that proposed sum was insufficient to provide compensation, medical exams, and research for the 18,000 retired NFL players affected.  Under the proposed settlement, awards would be capped at $5 million for Alzheimer’s disease, $4 million for those diagnosed after death with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and $3 million for players with dementia. The settlement also dictated that the NFL would not have to admit that it knew about the risk of concussion to players or the possible long-term effects.


James J. “Jim” Thomas II has been representing professional athletes for more than two decades. He has more than 35 years of experience helping Atlanta-area business ventures, handling complex business litigation, and working with businesses to evaluate, analyze, and resolve existing and potential litigation in sports law cases. Give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or email him today to set up a free consultation. To learn more about Jim, please go to

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