By Rock Mayock 11:00 p.m. | Over the past several months Jaboner Jackson has spoken in depth with FOOTBALLPHDS resident medical expert Dr. Hassan A. Riaz MD MBA about player safety, concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The timeliness of Jaboner’s conversations with Dr. Riaz is impeccable because last week the other shoe dropped regarding the 81 pending lawsuits filed against the NFL on behalf of former players and their families for concussion related head trauma and brain damage injuries. That shoe came in the form of a class action lawsuit combining all 81 claims . Without bias as to the validity to class action suit the FOOTBALLPHDS will provide a glimpse into how it will be settled out of court.
The first thing to consider when examining the significance of the class action filing is to understand what is at stake for the involved parties. On one side you have the plaintiff party which is comprised of approximately 2,000 claimants which includes current players, former players and the families of deceased players. On the other side you have the defendant party, the NFL.
The plaintiffs’ primary motivation for filing the class action is cash compensation for medical damages, loss of life, permanent disability, compensatory and punitive damages. These claims of bodily injury will be VERY difficult to defend in front of a jury. The defendant’s primary motivation will be to have this case either dismissed or settled prior to being heard in court. The filing of a primary encompassing class action suit enables the 2,000+ claimants to seek monetary damages in one lump sum claim as opposed to bogging down the court system with 81 different suits. In essence the class action was a procedural step to force action by both parties.
Now that the class action has been filed both parties will commence the long arduous task of preparing for a still yet to be determined court date. This means that both defendant and plaintiff parties will have the pleasure of going through the discovery and deposition process. This process is typically very costly and will likely take years to complete. Throughout the discovery/deposition process the involved parties retain the right to either move forward with the suit or settle the claim out of court. The NFL will seek to bring this matter a close sooner than later to prevent tarnishing of the NFL brand. Therefore the class will be resolved without going to court, probably within a 2-3 year window.
The class action claim will likely be resolved via a multi tiered settlement.
- There will be a structured cash settlement which will provide staggered payments to the listed plaintiffs over a fixed time period. A conservative estimate for the settlement figure is $500,000,000 paid over 20 years. This is the equivalent of $250,000 paid to each class member.
- The NFL will agree to conduct informational classes for both current and future players regarding the dangers of concussions and head trauma. These classes will be offered as a PR move by the NFL.
- The NFL will “self implement” rule changes to further protect players. These rule changes may include alterations to game standard equipment such as helmets and face masks. This too will be a PR move by the NFL.
- The NFL might agree to providing long term medical care for members of the class however this may be omitted in lieu of a larger cash settlement total.
- The NFL will pay the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees.
- The lead counsel for the class will sign on behalf of the plaintiffs to release the NFL of any additional or future liability regarding concussion or head trauma related injuries.
It’s dirty but this is how business is done.