The late Junior Seau’s family will opt out of the proposed NFL concussion settlement, their attorney said Wednesday.
“We want to lead the way,” said Steve Strauss, the San Diego attorney who represents the family of the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the San Diego Chargers. “I hope others will join us. If there are enough [opt-outs], I don’t know if the league will go through with the settlement.”
Last year, the family sued the NFL after Seau’s suicide in 2012 and subsequent diagnosis with the debilitating neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
While the family would be in line to receive $4 million under the settlement granted preliminary approval in July by a federal judge, Strauss doesn’t believe the damages or other terms of the settlement are adequate. The concerns include not knowing how the grid mandating the $4-million payout was calculated.
“The Seau children want to know why he took his life,” Strauss said. “This settlement seemed designed to keep information from coming out.
“He sent the world a message when he shot himself in the chest. From the beginning, we’ve been seeking the truth.”
Retired players and their families have until Oct. 14 to opt out of the settlement and pursue litigation on their own or to object. Seau’s family is the most prominent to come out against the settlement so far.
“If Mr. Strauss believes the $4 million his client is eligible for under the settlement is insufficient, he can choose to permanently forfeit these benefits and face all the significant risks associated with continued litigation,” plaintiffs’ co-counsel Christopher Seeger said in a statement. “We would advise any class member against opting out of this agreement, considering the tremendous guaranteed benefits it provides.”
A fairness hearing is scheduled for Nov. 19 in Philadelphia in front of U.S. District Judge Anita Brody.