One firm gets nearly half of the $112 million in concussion lawsuit legal fees

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The concussion class action that generated a potentially gigantic settlement also has generated a significant amount of legal fees.

Via the Associated Press, the Seeger Weiss firm was awarded $51 million of the $112 million allocated for legal fees.

As would be expected, some lawyers who didn’t get as much as they wanted complained about the decision.

“It was almost like a disregard for the facts . . . a rushed decision to get it off the docket,” said attorney Craig Mitnick, whose firm received roughly $675,000.

In most civil cases, the lawyer representing the plaintiff receives as his or her fees as a specific chunk of the total recovery. In this case, the settlement of the global class action included a negotiated formula for paying claims of former players, along with a separate fund for payment of legal fees.

To secure approval of the settlement, the NFL eventually agreed to a fund has no financial cap. A report issued Monday showed that roughly about 35 percent of all claims have been paid, 31 percent have been denied, and 10 percent have been withdrawn. The payout for claims has averaged $650,000 per former player.

The specific claims, based primarily in the notion that the league failed to warn players of the risks of head injuries suffered while playing football, would have faced a very rigorous defense, with arguments rooted in legal concepts (e.g., the labor deal between league and union preempts separate litigation), factual contentions (e.g., even if the players had known the risks associated with playing football, they still would have played), and technicalities (e.g., the statute of limitations). The settlement also provided the former players with qualified conditions payment long before the lawsuit plus any appeals would have been resolved.

From the league’s perspective, resolving the case allowed documents and evidence regarding what the league knew and when the league knew it about brain injuries to remain concealed, along with proof of affirmative efforts (if any) to conceal the truth from players. The potential P.R. impact of such disclosures undoubtedly contributed to the NFL’s decision to drop potentially winning arguments in court for the deal that was struck in 2013 and eventually approved.

10 responses to “One firm gets nearly half of the $112 million in concussion lawsuit legal fees

  1. The lawyers should be paid by the plaintiffs (their clients) at a rate not to exceed 20%. Many class action suits are bogus and pursued by shady lawyers hoping for a large settlement.

  2. After 25 years, the players will simply no longer exist that have any claim. The settlement meant it was a known risk/cost that could be financed/factored into the cost of doing business.

  3. It’s a win for both parties, because the league gets to get out from under this, and the players get something rather than fighting in court for the next 20 years. I also believe the players would have faced an uphill battle on the front that they weren’t aware that smashing their heads into hard objects might lead to brain issues. Thats a losing argument

  4. Players also didn’t have absolute proof the NFL was the direct cause of their concussions issues.

    3-4 years of high school football, 4 years of college football plus whatever other sports these athletes participated as kids (soccer, hockey, baseball, etc) could potentially be the main contributor.

  5. I don’t think the NFL’s very vigorous defense would of held up after it came out that the NFL purposely covered up information about concussions in the 90s & 2000s by omitting concussions, and trying to intimidate Boston University to pull research from concussions and direct it to them. There’s probably some other stuff I’m forgetting but point is I[‘m guessing any good lawyer would present that as a counter to anything the NFL tried to do on the lines of factual contentions.

    It’s hard to say that a X would still do Y if they know about it when you’re in the process if trying to hide Y from them to begin with.

  6. Lawyers ripping people off on a class action suit? Say it isn’t so?

  7. I’m surprised the players got anything. Usually whenever there’s a class action lawsuit the lawyers get everything and all the plaintiffs get is a worthless coupon. It reminds me of something Shakespeare said in Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2.

  8. This is why we need torte reform … but there’s so much dirty money floating around that the will of the people means nothing.

  9. I know that most people don’t like lawyers and don’t like class-action lawsuits.

    Class action lawsuits are the only way that many people can be effective when suing a powerful person or corporation. Most of the players don’t have enough money to fight the NFL, so individual lawsuits would fail. The class action lawsuits is at least allowing many players to get money for medical and other expenses.

    Do the lawyers get oo much money in class-action suits? It sure seems that way. I understand them getting 30% on individual lawsuits, but when a lawsuit involves hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, the percentage should be much smaller.

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