Ex-NFL players file formal objection

Jul 3, 2014

Alan Faneca / Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images




Ex-NFL players file formal objection

July 3, 2014, 1:45 PM ET

By Lester Munson | ESPN.

Seven retired players who played a total of 66 seasons in the NFL attacked the proposed settlement of concussion litigation on Wednesday, asserting that the deal “comes nowhere near being fair, adequate and reasonable.”

In their “objection” to the proposal filed in federal court in Philadelphia, the players stated that their “class counsel,” the attorneys who negotiated for the players, produced a “lousy deal” for them and “a great deal for the NFL and class counsel.”

 The players’ 58-page critique of the settlement proposal is the first formal objection filed against the settlement, according to Steve Molo, the attorney who represents the group. “We are asking the judge [Anita Brody of U.S. District Court] to do what she did before — to refuse to grant a preliminary approval.”

The players who filed the objection to the proposed settlement include Sean Morey, a special teams player who played for five teams between 1999 and 2010; Alan Faneca, an offensive lineman who played 13 seasons mostly with the Steelers between 1998 and 2010; Ben Hamilton, an offensive lineman who played for two teams between 2001 and 2010; Robert Royal, a tight end who played for three teams between 2002 and 2010; Rock Cartwright, a fullback and kick returner who played for two teams between 2002 and 2011; Jeff Rohrer, an outside linebacker who played for the Cowboys between 1982 and 1989; and, Sean Considine, a strong safety who played for five teams between 2005 and 2012.

Although all seven of the players already are suffering from the effects of concussion-caused brain injury, including episodic depression, sleep disorders, mood and personality changes, and attention and concentration deficits, none of the them would qualify for awards of compensation under the terms of the revised settlement that was announced on June 25. Because their conditions have not yet deteriorated into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, they would collect nothing under the proposal, according to Molo.

The players are also critical of the $122.5 million in fees to be awarded to the class counsel who are arguing for the settlement and the complex system that the settlement establishes for players’ claims.

The huge amount of the fee indicates, the players said in their court filing, that the lawyers did not engage in “arm’s length negotiation” and that “class counsel bargained away class members’ [players] interests. Relying on legal precedents that rejected excessive fees for attorneys in similar positions, the players say that the amount of the fee is “fare from a subtle sign — if anything, it is flashing neon.”

The players are particularly suspicious of what is known as a “clear sailing provision” in the settlement, an agreement by the NFL lawyers that they will not object to the fees to be awarded to the players’ class counsel.

“The very existence of a clear sailing provision increases the likelihood that class counsel will have bargained away something of value,” the court papers state.

In addition to the amount of the attorney fees to be awarded under the settlement, Molo and the players criticize the class counsel for their failures to do any “discovery,” the process of taking sworn testimony from NFL officials and gathering documents from NFL files on the issue of whether the NFL concealed the dangers of concussions from the players.

“Investigation of the facts through discovery of the NFL’s internal files could yield powerful and compelling evidence of the NFL’s culpability — strengthening class counsel’s hand at the negotiating table,” the players observed in their objection brief. “Yet class counsel settled this case without taking a single deposition and without the NFL producing a single document.”

The process for collecting their awards of compensation is “so onerous and confusing that it raises due process as well as fairness concerns,” according to the players.

They accuse the lawyers who negotiated the settlement of creating “a procedural labyrinth designed to limit the number and amount of settlement payouts.”

“The players face a whole series of obstacles as they make their claims while the lawyers who did very little collect their fees very quickly and easily,” Molo said.





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7 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Rebecca Carpenter
    July 3rd, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    What about that part in the proposed settlement where 50 (fifty) neurologists are on a “rejected” list… Including Cantu and others who are highly attuned to this disorder? I’m curious to know more about this aspect of it. It seems to send a clear message that certain neurosurgeons are being “blackballed” by the settlement. This is feeling a lot like intermediate stages of the big tobacco suits.

  2. Susan Owens
    July 3rd, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    This new settlement is just like the old settlement. When all of the attorneys were together to negotiate, I was to receive $5m settlement for R. C.’s death. The next settlement showed $3.5m for his death. Everything changed when these last two attorneys negotiated without talking to anyone except the NFL attorneys. They were the ones that negotiated (?) a pay grid by age of diagnosis which shows R. C.’s death settlement is $380,000.00. I do know that $380.000.00 is still a lot of money but the trickery is unreal to me. Their pay grade by diagnosis shows that only if you were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease under the age of 45 will you receive $3.5M yet if you look up early onset Alzheimer’s Disease between the ages of 40 – 60 years old you will see that this is primarily caused by an inherited gene – this is why early onset Alzheimer’s Disease is referred to as Familial Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s disease from trauma normally occurs between the ages of 60 – 80. How clever was that move – early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, 40 to 60 year olds, because it is inherited would be the only type of Alzheimer’s Disease the NFL could deny. Yet, I’m sure there will be a lot less $3.5M settlements going out to under 45 year olds then if they kept it the original way of awarding all deaths.

    July 3rd, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    Aloha All Former Players:

    Unfortunately, I have been involved in far too many legal situations and lawsuits. One would think having a Father as a Lawyer would make an individual aware of the characteristics of the Fraternity of those having a Law Diploma hanging in their Office [Many obtained after multiple attempts of passing the State Bar Standards, Ethics, and Morals requirements.] The State Bar of Washington even has no embarrassment in allowing former convicted criminal felons back into its’ Boys Club.

    I find the fact they were, and still are in many locations, practicing their craft by the name of “Solicitors” very accurate… Doesn’t the word and act of “PROSTITUTION” derive from this noun ? I have observed far too many winks, backslaps, office location similarities, law school “Secret” Handshakes, social clubs, and alcohol addiction within this Society to turn my stomach.

    As a client, I have been directly lied to, given misleading legal advice to benefit my own and opposing counsel fees, my direct legal instructions ignored. I have been denied access, knowledge, and decision making in essential legal decisions. The arrogance of superiority from THE SUITS, often sucks the air from a room.

    And please remember, these observations and statements come from a son of a Plaintiffs Lawyer. The same Father who when it came down between choosing between his son’s best interest and that of his clubby, backslapping, fraternity fracking, alcohol induced boy’s club – publicly defended, in writing, his fellow SOLICITORS.

    In a simple conclusion – considering my experiences, I find even the contemplation of this insulting settlement proposal from the NFL and the minimal amount of legal and media attention exposing the true purposes of its’ origination and intention – a legal blueprint of the manipulation and corruption of the Law by the NFL Owners.

    Where is the OUTRAGE by the Federal and State Governments that have been paying for our Medical Expenses and Treatment in lieu of The NFL Slave Owners ?

    L.A. RAMS – 1974-76

  4. Doug Cosbie
    July 5th, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    The proposed settlement would allow the N.F.L. to avoid legal liability, no liability or consequence for the willful neglect of responsibility to protect players, withholding and non-disclosure of information and proper medical attention / best practices for all those years, Is wrong. Let’s don’t repeat the errors and ignorance of our youth, when we always settled and accept what marginally offer was put in front of us. As players, we let our union and its leadership negotiate, settle, and agree to inexcusable deals, settling too easily, have we learned nothing from the past. Now, instead of a PA, selling us out, we have attorneys that we are allowing to do the same.

    Yes, a lot of us are hurting, me being one of them. But let’s don’t be weak minded, short sighted, with a sheep mentality, as we did when we were in our 20’s, we are grown men, now in our 50-80, don’t settle, do what’s right. Is there no place for justice and doing what’s right, hold them accountable and liable.

    We all want to point fingers and blame the NFL and the NFLPA, for our current state, but we allowed it to happen. We allowed all the improprieties, injustices that we have received, we allowed the PA to settle, and we allowed a united ownership group to dictate league policy and CBA’s for decades.

    Once again, we are settling and selling out, giving up our futures for a settlement. Hold them accountable and liable both the PA and NFL.

  5. Joe S.
    July 8th, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    Don’t worry, even Goliath and the Tobacco Companies were arrogant. The Good Lord Almighty humbles the proud!

    A rock and a slingshot are coming!

  6. brian J nemeth
    July 9th, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    I was one of the lucky ones to get workmans comp,maybe because I was partially paralyzed and in the hospital for a few months.They have tried for years to settle.My doctors and attorneys have always told me not to settle.I never have and have been covered for for 30 plus years!!! It has to be open ended to protect everyone forever!!!

  7. Joe S.
    July 14th, 2014 at 10:56 am #


    A suggestion for all vets….DO NOT OPT OUT until your voice is heard! FILE AN OBJECTION to the NFL SETTLEMENT! Wait for the smoke to clear and then go forward with your own decision and situation TO EITHER OPT IN OR OPT OUT of the settlement. LET THE WORLD know you view on the Settlement in Press Releases; locally in Philly and then nationally. I have included a critique by an attorney who has worked 20 years in the Brain Injury arena; the link is as follows:


    LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!! As we want to put Judge Brody on the spot! She is no fan of football or sports….and thats ok! But she IS a fan of logic and reason as relates to the law and she will be embarrased to endorse such a SHAM settlement!
    I would also use the objections in Dave Pears blog, by Attorney Steve Molo group, the additional objections by Attorney Gordon Johnson and then your OWN objections in counsel with your attorney. THE KEY IS REPETITION! THE KEY IS REPETITION! THE KEY IS REPETITON! If Judge Brody gets tackled with 20,000 objections to this settlement, it would look extremely bad! If the NFL refuses to tighten of resolve the issues within the settlement, then settlement should be dissolved and WE PROPOSE OUR OWN! MANDATORY FUNDING OF 800 MILLION A YEAR (STARTING NEGOTIATION POINT ) FOR 20 YEARS FOR A HEALTHCARE FUND CO-OP THAT WILL MEDICALLY INSURE PLAYERS! THERE SHOULD BE “CADILLAC PLANS” FOR ALL VETS AND ACTIVE PLAYERS!