Marino suit could be a sign that approval of settlement is coming

Getty Images

For many, the news that Dan Marino and others had filed a concussion lawsuit against the NFL prompted curiosity as status of the proposed settlement of all concussion claims by former players, negotiated more than nine months ago.

Filed in the same court where the global settlement is pending, the Marino suit creates the possible impression that the latest group of players has decided to quit waiting for whatever benefits may be available under the settlement and force the issue on their own.

But there’s another way to look at it.  The Marino lawsuit was filed by Sol Weiss, one of the primary lawyers representing all of the concussion plaintiffs.  The decision by Weiss to file the lawsuit now, in the court where the bulk of the concussion lawsuits are pending and where the settlement was negotiated last August, could be proof that Weiss expects the settlement to be approved fairly soon.

By adding 16 players to his total roster of concussion clients, Weiss could be in position to claim a larger slice of the award of attorneys’ fees, when the time comes for the lawyers to carve up the total pie of attorneys’ fees.  Thus, a fair interpretation of the events could be that Weiss knows (or at least senses) something about the looming approval of the settlement, and that he expects the motion for preliminary approval to be granted sooner rather than later.

Marino’s involvement necessarily creates more attention for the new lawsuit.  But because all retired players are included in the proposed settlement, Marino didn’t need to file suit.  And because Weiss helped broker the settlement, there’s no real reason to think Weiss aims to go rogue with a 16-player group of plaintiffs.

It’s also fair to infer that Marino, who previously worked for one of the NFL’s primary broadcasters (CBS), chose not to create a potential problem for his employer by biting the hand that was taking all that money from CBS during Marino’s tenure there.

Some are now using Marino’s past comments on concussions against him.  Ed Werder of ESPN pointed out via Twitter that, in an interview conducted last year, Marino said, “When I went out there to play, I knew there was a chance I could get a concussion.”

Still, knowing there’s a risk of brain injury and understanding the full extent of the consequences of a brain injury, especially a supposedly “mild” one, are two different things.  Any player with a functioning brain and general familiarity with the concept of a concussion knows there’s a risk of suffering a concussion when playing football.  The concussion lawsuits focus on the argument that the NFL knew much more than the players about the risks of having a concussion and failed to share that information.

For now, the philosophical debate doesn’t matter.  Marino’s rights under the proposed settlement are no different if he did or didn’t file suit in his own name.  If Marino were looking for a way to avoid his rights under the proposed settlement, he wouldn’t have filed suit in the same court where the global settlement is pending, represented by one of the main lawyers who worked out the deal.

And now that I’ve likely confused you thoroughly, carry on with your day.

14 responses to “Marino suit could be a sign that approval of settlement is coming

  1. You’re right; I’m confused. With all retired players covered under the settlement, what sense does it make for Marino to file suit? I get that it’s a big benefit to the lawyer, getting him a bigger fee. But how does Marino benefit? The only thing that I see that changes is the perception of him. Those that aren’t familiar with the proposed settlement will perceive that Marino just wants a pot of free money.

  2. Wow, I used to have a lot of respect for Marino. I mean it is hard enough trying to believe the stupid football players when they say – “Hey, I know they gave me a helmet to try and protect my head because there could be injuries, but I didn’t know I could get a concussion, and they didn’t tell me”, but now even the smart ones are saying it.

    There shouldn’t be a settlement. This is almost as bad as the smoking lawsuits.

  3. What this is really about isn’t that they players didn’t know that they could be injured, but that the NFL knew how those injuries could effect long term health. At the time Marino was playing a concussion was seen as a minor injury closer to a contusion than anything else. Now we, the general public to include players, know that a concussion can cause irreversible brain damage.

    The players content that the NFL has know for decades the potential damage that concussions can cause. And instead of mitigating the risks of concussions the NFL encouraged players to continue playing through the injury and failed to inform (and the players also contend were given false information) them of risks they were taking.

    Honestly, the NFL appears guilty. By refusing to go to court it appears that the NFL wants to hide what and how much information it had on concussions. I’m not saying they did, but they are working very hard and giving out a lot of money to keep their records to themselves.

  4. Notice rugby (and to a lesser degree soccer) players abroad don’t seem to have these issues pending in the legal system? Sadly our country feels the need to take any responsibility away from individuals no matter how common sense it seems. The only ones benefiting at the end of the day are lawyers and we can thank them when ticket prices go up.

  5. There are two different things being talked about here legally, and alot of people, including Ed Werner and Mark Brunell just now on Sportscenter, and mixing them up for their convenience.

    1) Dan Marino, and other players, have always said, as they should, that they know they could get hurt/injured, head to toe, every time they set foot on the field, and they accepted that. They wouldn’t be able to make a suit alleging that they were unaware that could get injured or suffer concussions stand up. No one would. So that is true.

    2) Dan Marino, and other players, played in a time where evidence now shows that ACTIVE CONCEALMENT of new (then) medical data concerning the long term effects of concussions occurred from the league office all the way down to the team medical staffs. The league and the teams had a “responsibility to inform” at that point. They had to decide- is it reasonable to disclose this info as soon as they began to see it and use it to implement return-to-play-after-injury safety protocols that reflect, to the best of their knowledge, the safest and most informed system they can reasonably run? Or is is reasonable to ignore this medical evidence and not say anything about it for whatever reason? So then there’s that choice the NFL had to make. For many years, they chose (b).

    If the trier of fact finds that players (or teams, then players through the teams) should have been officially briefed by the NFL and they weren’t, that’s an actionable legal issue. If the trier of fact finds that no one was briefed and asked to sign off on any relevant data concerning the long term health/life/death of players that they became aware of within a reasonable time of that awareness occurning, then there is gonna be a HUGE payday. That’s looks like the case here, and players from that era are lining up.

    Everything happening today for “player safety” regarding concussions is in reaction to this and it gets the NFL off the hook in this era because now people are educated and informed by the NFL “to the best of the NFL’s knowledge.” Is the NFL responsible for everything that can go wrong on the footabll field? No. Should that mean they lie and conceal cutting edge info about health as it arrises in medical studies that they are made aware of? Also no.

    So players from Marino’s day see this new age rules/protocols barage, and they say “wait, they never told me this stuff…” And if the NFL didn’t know, or shouldn’t/couldn’t have known about “this stuff” then there’s nothing anyone can do. But for the players in the times between (a) where the league started seeing established and credible data about the long term effects of concussions and more safe time-tables for return to play, and (b) where they started disclosing this and implementing reactionary safety protocols for it—- BANK TIME for those players. They can recover, and are doing it. Even Dan the Man.

    People who are tired of people grabbing easy money where they can are interesting… This is easy money grab for these guys and they, like anyone, should take what the can. And give what they can once they take it too. Pretty sure Dan marino is pretty charitable. so if this money, in part or whole, goes to charity, what say y’all now?

  6. I agree with Mike Golic. There are guys that legitimately need the help, and the lawyers and players looking for free cash, or not helping the cause. For a class action though, it’s always that way – there’s people that really need help, and people who don’t. There’s a scale to settle payouts, and everyone understands that it won’t be perfect.

  7. BANK TIME appears to be mostly for the lawyers.

    The last settlement I received from a class action suit was twelve dollars and change. Dunno what the lawyers got.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!