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Zuckerman Spaeder LLP Attorneys Appeal NFL Concussion Settlement

August 19, 2015

On behalf of three former National Football League (NFL) players, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP attorneys have appealed the concussion settlement pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The appeal calls the settlement “unfair, unreasonable and inadequate,” citing the glaringly disparate treatment of former NFL players who were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) before the settlement and those who will be diagnosed after the settlement. A former player diagnosed with CTE before the settlement is entitled to millions of dollars while a former player diagnosed with CTE after the settlement will receive no compensation for the very same diagnosis. The appeal was filed on behalf of former NFL players Jimmie H. Jones, Ricky Ray, and Jesse Solomon by Zuckerman Spaeder partners Dwight P. Bostwick and Cy Smith, counsel David Reiser, and associate Ramya Kasturi. Zuckerman Spaeder has a long history of advocating for former NFL players particularly with respect to the devastating impact of CTE. Zuckerman Spaeder attorneys, including Mr. Smith, represented the estate of Mike Webster, the ex-Pittsburgh Steeler diagnosed with CTE, in the successful 2006 lawsuit which kicked off pro football’s concussion and liability crisis as reflected in all complaints filed in the concussion lawsuit now on appeal.

“Unlike all other medical conditions or symptoms covered by the settlement – ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia – CTE rarely, if ever, is found in the general population,” wrote the Zuckerman Spaeder team in the appeal. “CTE in former NFL players has been confirmed at an alarming rate: 76 of 79 deceased former NFL players whose brains were examined for CTE have been diagnosed with the disease. It is no surprise then that future harm from CTE was the focal point of claims against the NFL brought by Appellants and thousands of other former NFL players. It is also no surprise that the NFL sought to release future CTE claims without risking the significant exposure that comes with agreeing to compensate these claims.”

The attorneys not only challenge the settlement on the grounds that it excludes players with behavioral and mood disorders linked to CTE; they also challenge the proposition advanced by attorneys for the NFL and Class Counsel that recovery for dementia serves as a viable proxy for future CTE diagnoses. Those with a diagnosis of dementia would be eligible for an average payout of $190,000, while a pre-settlement CTE diagnosis would be eligible for an average payout of $1.44 million.

The court is expected to hear arguments regarding the settlement this fall.

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