The NFL wants a Special Investigator to explore allegedly “widespread fraud” in connection with the concussion settlement. The co-lead class counsel representing former players agrees that an investigation is needed, but he pushes back against the perception that fraud is prevalent.
“We have previously expressed concerns about potentially fraudulent claims and agree the appointment of a special investigator is appropriate,” Christopher Seeger said in a statement issued to PFT. “However, we will not allow this small number of claims to be used as an excuse by the NFL to deny payment to legitimately injured former players. Unlike other NFL benefits programs, this settlement is overseen by the court, and the League cannot escape its responsibility. We will make sure that former NFL players and their families receive every benefit they are entitled to under this agreement.”
Some claims will be clearly valid. Some claims will be clearly invalid. And some claims will fall in the gray area, where validity or invalidity is in the eye of the beholder. That’s where problems will arise, because the NFL has a clear financial incentive to presume invalidity (and to search for any and all signs of fraud) in order to keep the eventual total financial obligation to former players as low as possible. This creates, in turn, an incentive to probe every single gray-area claim carefully and diligently for proof of invalidity and/or fraud.
That doesn’t mean fraud isn’t happening. The challenge for the court will be to come up with a way to spot true fraud without hurting those who truly aren’t trying to perpetrate a fraud. How the court handles this issue will go a long way toward ensuring that former players who deserve compensation will get it as soon as they can.
With the five-year anniversary — FIVE YEARS — of the original settlement agreement approaching in August, it’s critical that these claims get processed and paid as quickly as possible.