Local attorney defending NFL players in concussion lawsuitWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Millions of viewers will tune into the Super Bowl this weekend, and watch as players tackle each other, take hard hits and perhaps even get injured.
The players’ safety will undoubtedly be on the mind of area attorney Norman Abood, who is representing a number of former players in a multimillion-dollar concussion lawsuit against the NFL.
While Toledo isn’t home to its own NFL team, Abood has represented a number of professional athletes in cases across the country. Abood said the NFL clients were referred to him after working with attorneys in other states.
Abood, who has a law practice in Downtown Toledo, is representing four athletes in the suit: Antwaan Randle El, a former receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins; cornerback Dante Wesley of the Carolina Panthers; and guard Jeremy Bridges and tight end Johnny McWilliams, who both played for the Arizona Cardinals.
The players are only a fraction of the more than 20,000 retired players who could potentially file claims and receive settlements from the NFL to help pay for care needed after sustaining head injuries.
Abood is one of six attorneys representing the players’ interests in the $760 million suit, which is being heard in a federal court in Philadelphia. In August, the NFL and a representative of the attorneys and players announced a settlement, but Judge Anita Brody threw the settlement out when it was filed with the court two weeks ago.
However, Abood said the fact Brody sent negotiators back to the drawing room is actually a good thing for his clients.
“The judge felt she didn’t have enough information about the economics of the settlement,” Abood said. “She saw that it was going to be appealed by us, and it’s a good sign we are going to get to the meat of the problem sooner rather than later, and that’s in everyone’s best interest.
“But there’s all these financial variables you have to factor in to see if there’s enough money to pay all of the potential claimants,” Abood added.
Abood explained that players will potentially receive settlements that range from prescription coverage and medical monitoring to $3.5 million if they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease or $5 million with a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS. He said that additionally, a percentage of those settlements will be deducted if the player was active in the NFL for less that one or five years’ time.
Abood noted that the complexity of the case was compounded by a gag order on the attorneys, meaning he is unable to discuss specifics of the settlement terms with the lead negotiators in the case.
Abood said there are some upsides to the case.
“The settlement is typically in the clients’ best interest, particularly in this kind of case. One of the factors in the settlement is that each individual player won’t have to show which specific blows to his head resulted in the current conditions,” Abood said, noting that many of the claimants have been playing football and receiving blows to the head since grade school.
He also said that the NFL is used to cases with injured players, and have willingly given up some of their defenses in the case in exchange for a settlement.
“A prompt settlement that results in compensation, treatment, medicine and therapy sooner without years and years of appeals is certainly in everyone’s best interest,” Abood said. “Surprisingly, a lot of these guys don’t have health insurance. You read their medical reports and they’re a disaster.”
He also noted that the case has one major misconception: why the players took the NFL to court in the first place.
“Everyone says, ‘You know you’re going to get hit in the head playing.’ But the case is about the fact that early on, it was recognized that multiple blows to the head could or might result in early-onset dementia or Parkinson’s. So the NFL stepped forward and did and sponsored research on this. They reported repeatedly and emphatically said there was no causal relationship, and the fact is they lied,” Abood said. “This is a fraud case against the NFL. It’s not a situation where the players were told they’d get hit in the head and that it would result in medical issues. They were told the opposite.”
Abood said he doesn’t anticipate the case to be resolved in the immediate future. He also noted that the NFL remained mum about the case through the football season.
“I don’t think the NFL will want press about this during the season,” Abood said. “I think there will be a big push to get this resolved before next season. In the legal world, that’s an ambitious schedule, but I think there will be a big push by them.”
Tags: Anita Brody, Antwaan Randle El, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Concussion, Dante Wesley, Head Injury, Jeremy Bridges, Johnny McWilliams, National Football League, NFL, Norman Abood, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins