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Bankruptcy court could siphon Duerson’s concussion settlement

1987 NFC Divisional Playoff Game - Washington Redskins vs Chicago Bears - January 10, 1988 Getty Images

Under the pending concussion settlement, the estate of Dave Duerson, a star safety for the Bears in the 1980s, will be eligible for a multi-million-dollar payout.  His heirs may end up getting little or none of the money.

According to Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times, steps were taken to reopen Duerson’s bankruptcy case after news emerged of the proposed settlement, which could pay Duerson’s estate up to $4 million.

Five months before committing suicide in 2011, Duerson filed for bankruptcy protection in the face of $14.7 million in liabilities.  Less than $20,000 in assets were collected.

Bankruptcy trustee Marcia Dunn contends that a potential claim against the NFL was not listed among Duerson’s assets.

Lawyers representing Duerson’s family expressed confidence that the effort to re-open the bankruptcy case is a non-issue.  If it’s not a non-issue, it could keep them from getting much if not all of Duerson’s share of the settlement proceeds.

The concussion settlement was announced on August 29, with all retired players having “severe cognitive impairment” eligible for compensation.  A hearing before Judge Anita Brody for the purposes of granting preliminary approval to the $765 million deal and creating a timeline for future developments had been set for October 28, but it has been postponed.  As a practical matter, final approval wouldn’t be given to the settlement until 2014.

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12 Responses to “Bankruptcy court could siphon Duerson’s concussion settlement”
  1. chawk12thman says: Nov 2, 2013 1:22 AM

    Sorry for his family, but debts are debts. My guess is that the Lawyer’s get the majority of the proceeds and if there was a way to do this without court hearings and pleadings to the Nth Degree, some funds would be available.

  2. lawyermalloy says: Nov 2, 2013 2:09 AM

    If his estate really want’s to screw the Bankruptcy Trustee, the can drop his claim. Chances are the trustee will settle for a percentage should the estate continue the concussion case.

  3. logast says: Nov 2, 2013 8:16 AM

    I’ve always thought the crushing amount of debt he was under was a contributing factor.

  4. green41563 says: Nov 2, 2013 8:44 AM

    The problem with the concussion hysteria is that it ignores the many *other* reasons why players kill themselves, to wit, loss of purpose in life, loss of admiration, sudden feelings of worthlessness, and yes, financial ruin.

    Duerson is a perfect example. The concussion people have told the public that Duerson’s life was a bowl of cherries but for CTE. But it’s just not true. In reality, his life was a disaster. Years ago, he amassed a sizable fortune (millions) in the meat-packing business and thus enjoyed both an affluent lifestyle and a significant reputation as a successful businessman. But then the business collapsed, and he lost every penny he’d ever made. Suddenly, he was 50 years old, totally broke, embarrassed, and couldn’t support his family.

    Plenty of guys who never played football killed themselves under that kind of strain.

  5. dcapettini says: Nov 2, 2013 8:59 AM

    If the guy owed 14.7 million and the creditors got virtually nothing, why shouldn’t they get the bulk of the settlement? They didn’t do anything wrong other than loan him money. If his injuries prevented him from earning money to pay them back, then the injury settlement should be theirs.

    The heirs didn’t play football, incur the injuries or loan him the money. Why should they get it rather than legitimate lenders?

  6. newjerseygiants says: Nov 2, 2013 9:17 AM

    Once a bankruptcy is discharged, its over. I’ve never heard of a “possibility” of a future gain needing to be listed among assets. Its not an asset.

    Its similar to saying there’s a possibility I might win the lottery within a few years.

    The creditors won’t receive a dime.

  7. GBwomenrhot says: Nov 2, 2013 9:49 AM

    I think the NJGiants might be right….discharged is discharged….I don’t see them getting a dime.

  8. shackdelrio says: Nov 2, 2013 9:54 AM

    This will be an interesting case to say the least.

    If the money being paid out is to his family, it would not be part of his estate. And therefore, would not be included in his bankruptcy.

    I don’t see it being re-opened.

    But if it is, it could set a precedent for cases involving other NFL players.

  9. geofferystevens says: Nov 2, 2013 10:55 AM

    Discharged is discharged, however, if there was a settlement being negotiated which presented the likelihood of a pay out and they did not report that when presenting their case it is a possibility unlikely but a possibility the case could be reopened. It should be in my opinion, everyone knew about the settlement negotiations and it was ongoing at the time. Any future gains by the estate should be sheltered but not ones in process at the time.

  10. keltictim says: Nov 2, 2013 11:03 AM

    They failed to disclose the concussion lawsuit which was going on during the bankruptcy therefore they were not forthright about all possible future monies. This has been called fraud in done cases and it would mean that the bankruptcy case was discharged under false pretense and can be reopened.

  11. runtheball says: Nov 2, 2013 1:39 PM

    This is a travesty! Whatever happened to the guy(company) that owed Duerson money? I think Duerson got stiffed out of more than he owed.

  12. jacksprat57 says: Nov 5, 2013 9:23 PM

    geofferystevens:
    keltictim:

    Only claims extant at the time of death may be considered assets of the estate. Not theoretical claims, but only those which should have been known to the executor. My (dim) recollection of the lawsuit’s time-line is that this was not the case with Duerson.

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