Contention over the proposed NFL concussion settlement spilled into court filings Thursday when an attorney for the family of the late Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson filed a motion to depose Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired players.
The unusual request comes as retired players and their families face an Oct. 14 deadline to opt out or object to the settlement.
“Meaningful and informative communication between Mr. Seeger and the majority of other attorneys representing thousands of clients has been virtually non-existent,” attorney Thomas Demetrio wrote in a three-page affidavit attached to his filing.
Demetrio later added: “We still lack an informed understanding of the settlement discussions and negotiations. Indeed, we have zippo understanding.”
An actuarial report and associated data behind the settlement, requested by Demetrio and others, is scheduled to be made public Friday by order of U.S. District Judge Anita Brody.
But Demetrio, who said in the filing he’s been trying to acquire settlement data since January, believes more information is needed.
Demetrio’s questions include the settlement’s treatment of deaths from the neuro-degenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, better known as CTE. The families of retired players who die with CTE after July 7, when the settlement received preliminary approval, aren’t eligible for compensation for the disease under the agreement.
“[We] believe it is important to question Mr. Seeger to learn why he negotiated away for all time injury and wrongful death damages related to confirmed future cases of CTE,” Demetrio wrote.
Seeger didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The deposition request comes after Junior Seau’s family announced it will opt out of the settlement and pursue litigation against the NFL on its own and Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure told The Times he’ll tell everyone he knows to object.
Earlier Thursday, a federal appeals court denied a request by seven former NFL players for the court to intervene in the proposed concussion settlement between the league and retired players. The three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit didn’t give a reason for the denial, but will issue an opinion at a later date.
A fairness hearing for the settlement is scheduled for Nov. 19 in front of Brody.
Follow Nathan Fenno on Twitter @nathanfenno