The 4,500-plus player lawsuit against the NFL could get a lot stronger — or a lot weaker — in a week.
As soon as September 3, Judge Anita Brody will issue a ruling on the question of whether and to what extent claims that the NFL covered up the risks of concussions and/or failed to reasonably protect players from concussions should be sent to arbitration under the labor deals between the league and the NFLPA.
Judge Brody delayed the date of her intended ruling in early July, because the parties agreed to engage in mediation under the supervision of retired U.S. District Court Judge Layn Phillips. Citing a court-imposed gag order, the NFL has no comment on whether mediation, a non-binding process aimed at creating a framework for settlement talks, has resulted in progress toward a settlement of the cases.
Absent a settlement, the decision from Judge Brody could dramatically impact the case, especially if she orders most or all of the plaintiffs to pursue their claims through arbitration. If she allows the case to proceed in court, the NFL still has numerous defenses that would be launched before the case would ever go to trial in front of a jury.