SBD/August 24, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Source: Class-Action Concussion Lawsuit Likely; Could Lead NFL To Go Bankrupt

A class-action concussion lawsuit against the NFL "is likely," and if it loses such a suit, it is "possible the league could go bankrupt," according to a legal expert cited in the fifth part of a weeklong feature on the impact of NFL concussions for SPORTING NEWS. The fifth entry in Sporting News' report is titled, "Can The NFL Lose Everything?" The source said that a class-action lawsuit is likely because there "might eventually be 5,000 former NFL players who join the litigation, making it impracticable to hear each case." The source added that a class-action suit "could significantly increase the potential damages the NFL may have to pay, as such a case would represent all individuals in the class," and the potential of a larger damages reward "increases the leverage of the plaintiffs in any settlement discussions." The source said that while it is possible the league goes bankrupt, it is "not likely with the estimated league revenues of $9 billion a year." However, the source added that the NFL "has some insurance coverage, and how much of the damages/settlement will be paid by insurers is difficult to determine." The source noted that as of mid-August, "there were 135 cases with 3,402 former players." The first concussion lawsuit was filed in California state court by 75 former NFLers and 51 spouses on July 19, 2011. The first federal lawsuit against the NFL was filed on Aug. 17, 2011. The source said that if a class-action lawsuit does materialize, "some have speculated it will not reach the court until 2018." The source said of how long it could take for the litigation to play out that, "There would be appeals, so we’re talking lots of years." As for the NFL's defense, the source said that the league "will make several arguments" including, reasonable care/no negligence, preemption, assumption of risk, contributory negligence (or comparative negligence) and causation (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/24).
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