U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, PA has announced that she will decide late next month whether thousands of NFL concussion lawsuits will be allowed to proceed in open court or if they will instead take place in private arbitration.
The docket was released by Judge Brody earlier this week and revealed that she intends to issue her ruling in the high profile case on July 22nd. The ruling is important and many experts believe the outcome will give one side in the case a significant boost in what has turned into a massive litigation effort.
The issue before Judge Brody is whether to dismiss the lawsuits filed by thousands of former NFL players who claim the league covered up the serious damage that concussions can cause later in life. The NFL claims that the former players’ suits are merely contractual issues and should be dealt with in private arbitration, a clause found in the contracts signed by many players.
However, the players claim that the issue is bigger than a simple contractual matter because it involved fraud. The argument is that the NFL management understood the dangers poses by serious head injuries but actively concealed them from players while continually promoting the violence of the hard-hitting sport.
Injured players are seeking unspecified sums in damages and also want continued medical care for former players who have not yet shown signs of serious brain damage. The league claims it has done nothing wrong and has no responsibility for the players’ health given that such decisions are made on an individual basis by teams and their medical staffs.
Experts agree that Judge Brody’s decision will have an important impact on the fate of the more than 4,000 lawsuits filed against the NFL thus far. However, Judge Brody’s word will likely not be the last. The NFL has already said that if it loses the fight over whether the lawsuits are preempted by contractual language, it will simply move to have them thrown out by claiming that most are beyond the statute of limitations for such claims. No matter which way she decides it may still be a long road before the families of the injured players get the justice they deserve.
Pope McGlamry P.C., currently represents former professional football players and their families for injuries and damages sustained as a result of suffering concussions while playing football, and is actively involved in the current concussion litigation. If you or someone you love has been injured during your professional football career, you may be entitled to compensation.
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