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Football Concussion Cases Percolate High and Low

Sept. 1, 2016, 8:37 PM

Litigation over the $1 billion National Football League concussion settlement isn’t completely settled yet, as the estate of former NFL player Carlton Gilchrist asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the fairness of the deal (Gilchrist v. Nat’l Football League, U.S., No. not assigned yet, filed 8/30/16).

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the burgeoning area of litigation involving head injuries to athletes, the Southern District of Indiana is considering new concussion-related class action complaints filed Aug. 31 by seven more former college football players.

The Aug. 30 petition asks the nation’s top court to review the Third Circuit’s rejection of claims by 10 former players that the settlement is unfair to some players based on the type and timing of their brain injuries.

“The NFL concussion settlement was approved without a shred of adversarial discovery conducted by the parties, which is highly unusual in our experience,” Jared Beck, of Beck & Lee Trial Lawyers in Miami, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 1. Beck is co-counsel for Gilchrist’s estate in the Supreme Court case.

Attorney Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired NFL player class, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 31 the petition is meritless.

“We believe the Supreme Court should deny the appellants’ petition, as these objections have now been exhaustively examined and overruled by the both the District Court and the Third Circuit,” Seeger, of Seeger Weiss in New York City, said in an e-mail.

Requests for comment to the NFL and its counsel in the Third Circuit appeal weren’t successful Sept. 1.

New College Football Claims.

The new suits by former college football players join 15 similar suits brought in various districts by other players last June.

All of the suits claim the National Collegiate Athletic Administration and football conferences didn’t do enough to warn or protect players from the long-term risks of repetitive head trauma. They seek damages beyond the relief offered in a tentatively approved $75 million class settlement that would provide medical monitoring and safety protocols.

One representative complaint among the most recent spate of suits was brought by former University of Florida player Jamie Richardson against both the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference.

The other actions were filed against Florida State University, University of Miami, Mississippi State University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Murray State University in Kentucky.

The law offices of Beck & Lee Trial Lawyers, Cullen O’Brien Law and Antonio G. Hernandez represent the estate of Carlton Gilchrist and his son, Scott Gilchrist, in the Supreme Court petition.

The Edelson law firm represents Jamie Richardson and the plaintiffs in the other complaints filed against the NCAA and other defendants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bna.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven V. Patrick at spatrick@ban.com.

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