Concerns Growing Over Payment Of Lawyer Fees In NFL Concussion Settlement
The more than 4,500 players who had reached a concussion settlement four months ago with the NFL "were assured that no part of the $765 million deal would go to lawyers," but documents and e-mails show that a "recent dispute involving the players' lead negotiator confirms that not only was that statement misleading, some lawyers stand to receive multiple paydays," according to Fainaru-Wada & Fainaru of ESPN.com. While the preliminary approval from the federal judge overseeing the case "could come soon, interviews with attorneys and former players find growing discontent on multiple fronts, including the unusually long delay delivering the case to the judge and a veil of secrecy that continues to shield basic information from the plaintiffs." The latest concerns are that negotiators "may reward themselves at the expense of injured athletes." The dispute "arose when Christopher Seeger, the players' lead negotiator, tried to arrange an agreement to receive a 10 percent cut of any money awarded" to 80-year-old former NFLer, Billy Kinard. The creation of a fund paid for by the league to cover legal fees "raised concerns that some lawyers would engage in 'double-dipping' -- drawing money from both the common fund and separate fee agreements and potentially siphoning millions of dollars from the pool of money allotted to injured players." Legal experts said that the issue "is likely to draw the attention of federal judge Anita Brody" (ESPN.com, 12/16). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes Brody has appointed Perry Golkin as "a special master to help analyze the final agreement, which could be filed in days." Golkin will help assess "the expected financial complexity of the proposed settlement." Golkin will provide "due diligence for the court and make 'formal or informal recommendations' to the judge and the lawyers on both sides." Golkin "will not be paid" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/17).