Junior Seau's Family Objects to NFL's $765M Concussion Deal
The family of the late NFL star Junior Seau plans to object to the proposed $765 million settlement of player concussion claims because the fund would not pay wrongful death claims to survivors.
Although the players' lawsuits accused the NFL of concealing known concussion risks, there would be no blame assessed as part of the settlement, and no punitive damages for pain and suffering.
"Mr. Seau's children have their own claims for the wrong the NFL did to them. His children are not suing for their father's pain and suffering, they are suing for their own," lawyer Steven M. Strauss wrote in a court filing Friday that signaled the family's intent to pursue an individual lawsuit.
Other potential critics to the settlement reached by players' lawyers and the league are also starting to emerge — and the judge overseeing the case has herself expressed doubts the sum is big enough.
About 50 plaintiffs' lawyers met in New York last week to learn more about the settlement from the lead lawyers, but some left dissatisfied.
"This could be a great settlement, this could be a terrible settlement, but I don't know," said Chicago lawyer Thomas A. Demetrio, who represents 10 players, including the family of the late Dave Duerson, a four-time Pro Bowler who mostly played with the Chicago Bears.
Duerson fatally shot himself in the chest, leaving his brain intact for autopsy. Like Seau, he was diagnosed with CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. An honors graduate and trustee of the University of Notre Dame, he was 50 when he died, which would factor into his family's payout.
"His estate will receive $2.2 million. That's not adequate," Demetrio said.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, who must weigh the deal, also wants more actuarial details than filed with the settlement papers. She preliminarily rejected the plan last month, questioning whether $765 million will be enough to fund about 20,000 claims involved for 65 years, as promised.
The architects of the plan argue that the players could end up with nothing if the lawsuits are thrown out of court. The NFL had argued that the claims belonged in arbitration. The retirees would also have to prove their injuries came from NFL concussions, and not those suffered earlier.