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Published January 27, 2014
DEAL FALLING APART? In Philadelphia, Jeremy Roebuck wrote the "nay-saying has begun" about the NFL's proposed $765M concussion settlement. Lawyers have "emerged seeking to poach clients from their current attorneys with questionable promises of big paydays for those who take their chances in court." The "drumbeat of public skepticism has grown so pronounced, some fear a significant number of players could opt out of the deal, undermining the overall impact of the NFL's offer." In an effort to "keep together the coalition of more than 4,500 retired players that helped drive the league to the negotiating table, the attorneys who helped craft the proposal are planning a nationwide strategy to ease anxieties and sell players and their lawyers on the plan." Attorney Sol Weiss, who was co-lead counsel on the former players' lawsuit, said, "I honestly believe this is the best deal the players are going to get. There are a number of very tough legal hurdles they'll have to overcome in a lawsuit if they're going to take the NFL to court and win." Sources said that the tone at a meeting last week among about 50 lawyers for the plaintiffs "remained mostly civil," but the atmosphere "grew tense at times." Some "have questioned how the plan effectively divides retired players into two camps: those who sued the league early on and must pay their lawyers a cut of any payment they receive, and those who never sued but are now eligible for compensation due to the NFL's insistence on a class-action settlement." Attorney Philip Thomas said, "Settlements tend to be final. You don't go back and change them later" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/26).
FINE WITH JUDGE TAKING HER TIME: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this morning said District Court Judge Anita Brody is "making sure she's totally comfortable with the settlement, and that's a good thing." Goodell: "We want her to be thorough and we want her to make sure she's comfortable with all of the projections both parties came to an agreement under. ... She wants more information to fully understand it and we're following her process. Our goal is simply to get this resolved and get the money to the former players as quick as possible" ("Mike & Mike, ESPN Radio, 1/27).
HAVING DOUBTS: In San Diego, Michael Gehlken reported attorneys representing late NFLer Junior Seau's family on Friday "formally expressed concerns" with the proposed settlement." Attorneys for Seau's family in a filing in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia alleged that "wrongful death is not being sufficiently differentiated from injured players in the settlement." The attorneys also "cautioned about time," suggesting that under the settlement's current language, if a plaintiff opts out, the length of the appeal process "is worrisome" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/25).