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Ex-players file motion to intervene in NFL concussion lawsuit

Justice SystemSean Considine
Seven retired NFL players claim the league's proposed $765-million concussion settlement isn't enough.

Seven retired NFL players filed a motion Monday to intervene in the NFL concussion litigation, claiming that the proposed $765-million settlement doesn't sufficiently represent the interests of all former players.

" ... [T]hat deal did not provide a single dollar, nor adequate medical treatment, to the many more class members who suffer from afflictions that inhibit their ability to work or function fully in their daily lives," the 29-page motion filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia said.

In January, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody rejected the proposed settlement, expressing doubts about whether the amount is enough and asking to see documentation supporting the plan.

The seven ex-players in Monday's motion -- Roderick Cartwright, Sean Considine, Alan Faneca, Ben Hamilton, Sean Morey, Jeff Rohrer and Robert Royal -- weren't part of the original litigation. Because the proposed settlement would apply to all retired players who do not opt out, the group said, they grew concerned over the terms.

"They're people who have a very strong belief that players like themselves have been injured and this settlement process and this settlement has treated them unfairly," said attorney Steven Molo of the New York-based MoloLamken firm representing the players. "They had long, sustained, high-quality careers in the NFL. They're not people who are just trying to make a quick buck off this."

The NFL and co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs have maintained that they expect the proposed settlement will eventually be approved. Neither party immediately responded to requests for comment on Monday's filing.

In the motion, the group claims that the two representatives for the plaintiffs in the original class-action case -- Kevin Turner and Shawn Wooden -- don't face the same health-related problems from their professional football careers as the group. Turner suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and Wooden "has not been diagnosed with any neurocognitive impairment," according to court documents. The documents don’t indicate that Wooden has an increased risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE; each member of the group believes that they may have such symptoms.

The group's symptoms, according to the motion, include peripheral nerve dysfunction, memory deficits and cervical spinal disorders.

"The settlement would have compensated only a small subset of [mild-traumatic-brain-injury-related] injuries to the exclusion of all others," the motion said.

Other concerns raised in the motion include the proposed settlement's award of money to CTE victims only if the player died before the settlement's preliminary approval, and a clause that barred concussion-related claims against the NCAA by any player who is compensated in the settlement.

The group, Molo said, wants a voice in settlement discussions to make certain their interests are represented. That includes establishing a subclass of plaintiffs with similar health issues, he said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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