With the rise of Twitter, headlines shape perceptions more than ever before — especially since many people will only ever see the headlines. And today’s potential headline that could spark misconceptions relates to the news that 2,000 former players will be filing suit against the NFL on Thursday for concussions suffered while playing the game.
What those who read only the headlines may miss is that the 2,000 former players already have sued, and that the “master complaint” is aimed at consolidating many of the cases currently pending in federal courts throughout the country. Indeed, a “case management order” entered in May requires a master complaint to be filed by Friday.
Though the lawyers who’ll be filing the complaint aren’t specifically trying to mislead anyone, the fact that they’ve sent out a press release announcing the news and making former NFL player Kevin Turner and the widow of Ray Easterling available for a conference call in conjunction with the filing creates the impression that this is something new.
It’s not. The cases already are pending. This is part of the broader effort to turn the many cases into one case that can be processed and resolved in an orderly fashion.
By August 9, the NFL and other defendants may file a motion to dismiss the case. The NFL undoubtedly will file a motion arguing that any potential claims must be made under the labor agreement’s grievance procedure. The back-and-forth process of submitting legal briefs continues until November 26, which means that the initial question of whether the cases will be kicked out of court will linger, possibly into 2013.
And the court’s ruling on the motion to dismiss will generate a very significant headline.