Few former players have said they want nothing to do with the concussion settlement brokered last week. On Sunday, four former players made their position on the issue clear, without saying a word.
Jimmy Williams, Rich Mauti, Jimmy Keyes, and Nolan Franz filed a new concussion lawsuit against the league — three days after a settlement of the pending concussion lawsuits was struck. The filing of a civil complaint in a New Orleans federal court creates the clear impression that they have no plans to participate in the settlement, and that they want to take their own crack at the league.
Similar to the lawsuits that continue to be filed against Pilot Flying J, the truck-stop company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, after preliminary approval was given to a nationwide class-action settlement, the message from this new filing is that the players intend to exercise their right to “opt out” of the settlement.
Curiously, attorney Sol Weiss — co-lead counsel in the cases that were settled — tells the Associated Press that he expects the lawsuit to be included in the broader settlement.
That’s likely wishful thinking from Weiss. The decision to file suit after a global settlement encompassing all retired players was struck means that the players who filed the lawsuit want to pursue their own deal, unless their lawyer simply wasn’t aware of the settlement. Chances that a lawyer finalizing paperwork to file a concussion lawsuit against the NFL didn’t hear about the settlement of the concussion lawsuits against the league is remote, to say the least.
The suit also includes helmet manufacturer Riddell as a defendant. No settlement has been reached with Riddell.
Per the AP, the new lawsuit contends that the players have experienced “headaches, dizziness, memory loss, depression, cognitive dysfunction and medical bills because of concussions and other brain injuries, and will have future expenses which they and their wives will have to pay for and future problems that will require their wives’ care.”
The pending settlement will compensate only those retired players with “severe cognitive impairment,” whatever that means. On the surface, it seems to mean that anyone with cognitive impairment not deemed “severe” by the doctors who’ll be divvying up the $675 million compensation fund won’t be getting a cash payment as part of the settlement.
For that reason alone, players with cognitive impairment not likely to be regarded as “severe” should strongly consider opting out.