Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
During recent NFL seasons, a main theme has been concussions and former players’ lawsuits. Today’s settlement of the lawsuit brought by former NFL players against the NFL for deliberately misleading players about concussion risks brings attention to the importance of taking concussions seriously. The settlement fund is intended to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research. More than 4,500 former football players were plaintiffs in the case, many believing that their neurological problems were the results of on-field concussions. In the lawsuits, they accused the NFL of hiding known risks of concussions. The NFL “has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted that safety always has been a top priority.”
Hoping to avoid a repetitious need to constantly address the topic, the timing of the settlement allows the NFL to begin the new season with the issue resolved.
With the concussion cases now settled, the questions about what the NFL knew and when it knew about concussion-linked brain problems will not have to be answered and the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee inner-workings remain a secret. “… In a series of scientific papers from 2003 to 2009, members of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee wrote that ‘no NFL player’ had experienced chronic brain damage from repeated concussions.” In 2005, the NFL series on concussions research concluded that chronic brain injury “has never been reported in American football players.” The authors of the study, published in the medical journal “Neurosurgery,” included three members of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.
While the NFL experts were denying a link between football and long-term brain damage, the NFL’s retirement board concluded that players did suffer brain damage. According to a joint investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and PBS’ “Frontline” show, the NFL retirement board began paying disability benefits to players in the late 1990s and 2000s, concluding that football caused their brain injuries.
According to the mediator, former U.S. District Judge Layne Phillips, this was “a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football. Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed.”
“It’s been a struggle to get to this point, but today I will say I’m very proud that the NFL has decided to stand up for all the former players who are suffering from brain injuries,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, during a teleconference.
“Today is so important for those who are … hurting. This will bring help for them today.”
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year” (2011). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100” lawyers (out of more than 80,000 attorneys) in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2013)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.