This week, ten former NFL players filed objections to the NFL Concussion Lawsuit settlement due to concerns that the settlement does not adequately compensate the victims of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a brain injury of progressive neurological deterioration caused by repeated blows to the head. It was previously known as “dementia pugilistica”, as the condition was frequently observed in boxers. CTE has symptoms including memory loss, behavioral and mood disorders, personality changes, speech and gait abnormalities, impulsive actions and rage.
The settlement covers approximately 20,000 players, and the great majority of those players or their families for those who are deceased are accepting the terms of the settlement. But Robert Stern, a Boston University professor of neurology and leasing expert on CTE, has declared that players “who suffer from many of the most disturbing and disabling symptoms of CTE will not be compensated under the settlement.”
Since CTE cannot be diagnosed in living players, the 76 cases of the diagnosis in football players were all discovered during autopsies, which is part of the reason that the CTE diagnosis was not given the same weight as other conditions when determining the compensation provided to ex-players in the settlement. For example, conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and dementia do not have the same restrictions as does CTE, ostensibly because each of these diagnoses can be determined while the player is alive. As presently constituted and approved by federal justice Anita Brody of the 3rd District in Philadelphia, all caps as to total compensation were removed. However, former NFL players who were diagnosed with CTE prior to January 1, 2006, or after July 7 of this year, are not covered by the settlement.
Thus, ex-players such as the late Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame center for the Super Bowl champ Pittsburgh Steelers, would not be eligible for compensation for a diagnosis of CTE, as he died in 2002. Several former players, including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest so that their families could have a thorough analysis of their brains conducted during their autopsies, as they were convinced that they were suffering the effects of brain trauma suffered during their playing careers.
In the case of the family of Dave Duerson, they objected to, but did not opt out of, the settlement, so that they will receive approximately 2.6 million before attorney’s fees when the settlement funds are disbursed. In contrast, the family of Mr. Seau opted out of the settlement to pursue their own lawsuit against the NFL. Judge Brady has scheduled a “Fairness Hearing” for November 19, 2014 before the settlement is confirmed and finalized. Undoubtedly, the unresolved issues regarding CTE will be a significant topic during this hearing.
Contact the TBI Attorneys at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you or a family member are suffer serious injuries in a car crash, truck accident, motorcycle accident, in a trip and fall, or on a construction site, for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail. Our experienced and dedicated litigators will fight the insurance companies and their attorneys from the inception of the case to trial to maximize your compensation for your physical and mental injuries, past, present and future medical and hospital expenses, past and future lost earnings, and loss of enjoyment of life.