Third Circuit rejects ex-NFL Players Opposition to NFL Settlement

sports litigation

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by former NFL players to stop the NFL concussion settlement.

As you may recall, earlier this year, more than 200 lawsuits by former players pending against the National Football League were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The ex-professional football players alleged that the effects of brain injuries, head injuries, concussions and the dangers of multiple sustained blows to the head were not disclosed to them while they were playing for the league. They also alleged that the helmets they played with provided inadequate protection. On July 7, 2014, Judge Anita Brody granted preliminary approval of a $765 million dollar settlement to resolve the players’ claims that the NFL failed to adequately warn players about the risks of head injuries.

The settlement agreement creates a presumptive class of more than 20,000 former NFL players and their heirs, and will make millions of dollars available over the next 65 years to cover medical and health care expenses that resulted from repetitive head injuries during practices and games, including vision problems, headaches, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological issues.

After the July settlement was preliminarily approved, a group of seven former players appealed to the Third Circuit. The chief argument in the petition was that the “notice is materially false, and the claims process is improperly complex and exclusionary in violation of due process.” The players also objected to the settlement, claiming that the settlement gave relief to some members of the class, but failed to go far enough for others, especially those suffering from certain types of mildly traumatic brain injuries. The justices were critical that the objecting players wanted a bigger settlement.

According to the Pennsylvania Record, the three-judge panel rejected the claims based upon the procedural merits. The judges failed to issue an opinion, calling the players’ objections untimely, and premature, until Judge Anita Brody holds a November 19, 2014 fairness hearing. An opinion is expected at a later time.

With more than 35 years of experience representing professional athletes, individuals and businesses in the areas of sports law and business litigation, James J. “Jim” Thomas II is recognized as an expert across Georgia. If you or your business needs assistance in sports law, business ventures, handling complex business litigation, or in the analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation in sports law cases, give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or email him today to set up a consultation.

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