The NFL concussion case took a new turn when Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody dismissed three of four lawyers serving as class counsel. The move leaves only Christopher Seegar, a New York lawyer, as a representative to handle issues of the 20,000-member lawsuit.
Gene Locks, outgoing class counsel, claims that the removal extinguishes all hope that clients will be protected in the settlement.
“This court has been told, many times, in motions and in camera [chambers], factual arguments from the NFL that have been exaggerated and intended to limit their obligations to the players,” he claims.
Seegar vows to fight on behalf of former players to ensure that they receive every benefit that they deserve.
Seegar’s firm has benefitted drastically from the lawsuit, receiving the majority of the $112 million in fees from the long-running case.
The fallout from the $1 billion settlement has led to a Marion Superior Court entering the legal battle. The local court is overseeing a dispute over records from the Indianapolis Colts. Insurers in the New York case want to know if the NFL knew of the risks and when they knew of the concussion risks facing players.
If the NFL knew of the risks, it would impact insurance company liabilities greatly.
Marion Superior Court has granted a motion in April requesting documents from the Colts’ communication with the NFL. Documentation includes research on the effects of head trauma and details the concussion protocols utilized by the team.
Lists of players that sustained injuries and may have sought advice from a traumatic brain injury lawyer are also included in the list.
The April ordered was put aside, with the judge issuing a new order on May 8 to file a status report by July 1 concerning the subpoena. The order was put aside after the NFL filed a motion for the subpoena to be put on hold pending a legal challenge.
Doctor shopping limits were also put in place to prevent fraud. The federal judge overseeing the case now requires that a doctor, close to home, must be sought. Retired players are against the ruling because in the original class-action settlement, players agreed to the settlement under the terms and conditions that they could choose doctors on their own.
Players mistrust the NFL, and doctors will have to be within 150 miles of the player to be allowed under the new rules. Neurologists will have to be within 200 miles of the player. Exceptions can be made if the player lives in a rural area where there may be a lack of doctors.
Lawyers for retired players claim that there are not enough neurologists taking part in the program already, limiting the ability for retired players to seek out medical advice. The settlement had paid out 872 awards, with an average of $575,000 per award. Deaths for cases dealing with CTE have an average payout of $1.2 million, with 73 cases paid out thus far.
There have been over 1,700 dementia claims filed with less than 15% approved.