The headline at ESPN.com proclaims that the lawsuit filed by former Lions running back Jahvid Best against the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell has been dismissed. Which suggests that the case has ended.
The reality is that the case never got going. As explained by Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com, the case was dismissed “without prejudice” due to failure to serve the lawsuit on the defendants. The term “without prejudice” means he can file it again.
But since the goal of the lawsuit was to secure protection for Best against future medical conditions he may experience, Best doesn’t need to do anything, if the pending concussion settlement ultimately is approved and finalized. As a retired player, he’ll be entitled to share in the $675 million settlement fund, if/when he can prove that he suffers from a severe cognitive impairment.
One of the potential problems with the proposed settlement comes from the fact that benefits are available only to former players with severe impairments. Men with moderate impairments get nothing.
Without knowing more about Best’s health, it’s impossible to know whether he will be eligible for payments under the proposed settlement, or whether he’d have to pursue his own claim due to an impairment that is less than severe. Still, since he entered the NFL after the league developed an unprecedented sensitivity to head injuries and after the risks were fully known, it will be hard for him to prove the the NFL is liable, if he re-files his lawsuit and serves it.