NHL Moves to Bar Testimony of Four Expert Witnesses in Concussion Litigation

On February 9, 2018, two proposed classes of NHL players asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson not to bar expert testimony of four experts. The players argued that the experts provided necessary information that is pertinent to their lawsuit. The suit began when former NHL players claimed that the NHL failed to inform them of the health risks caused by concussions and head-related trauma even though the league had knowledge of such information. The NHL argued that epidemiologist Dr. R. Dawn Comstock’s opinions…
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Judge Stays Aaron Hernandez’s Consortium Suit

On January 23, 2018, U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. decided to stay a suit brought by Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, the fiancée of the late New England Patriots tight end Arron Hernandez. Mr. Hernandez committed suicide in prison while awaiting the appeal of his murder conviction. A court can stop, or “stay,” a proceeding or trial temporarily or indefinitely. Judge O’Toole ordered a stay on Ms. Jenkins-Hernandez’s suit in order to await a ruling by a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The panel is deciding…
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NFL Continues to Argue Hernandez Suit is a Matter of Federal Labor Law

On December 18, 2017, the National Football League responded in opposition to Avielle Hernandez’s motion to remand her lawsuit against the NFL back to state court. Also named in the suit are helmet maker Riddell and other related companies. Avielle’s lawsuit seeks compensation for the NFL’s role in her father’s, Aaron Hernandez’s, post-mortem diagnosis of stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Those diagnosed with CTE exhibit symptoms that include impulse control issues, aggression, depression, dementia, and suicidality. Hernandez committed suicide while serving a life sentence…
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Ruling on Field Stands for Changes to Claims Process in NFL Concussion Settlement

A Pennsylvania federal judge upheld the approval of a claims administrator’s changes in the way a multidistrict NFL concussion settlement was implemented. The 16 retired players who filed the motion for reconsideration argued that the court should review its Nov. 2 decision that they cannot interfere with the claims process. The former players again argued the requirements for qualifying for a monetary reward were altered from the original settlement agreement. The court denied the motion Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 without a memorandum. The retired players…
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Should Hernandez CTE Case Remain Separate from Class-Action Concussion Litigation?

Lawyers for the estate of late NFL star Aaron Hernandez are trying to prevent a $20 million lawsuit, filed on behalf of Hernandez’ five-year-old daughter against the National Football League, from being merged with a wider class-action suit addressing former players’ concussions. The defendants, including the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell, asked U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole in November to temporarily stay proceedings in the case until the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) rules whether the action should be added to the…
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Riddell Helmet Safety Suit Moved to Illinois

On November 22, 2017, California federal judge Beth Labson Freeman transferred the putative class action against Riddell and its parent company BRG Sports Inc. to Illinois. Former college football players had brought the suit against Riddell and BRG Sports, alleging that the companies lied about the protection its helmets offered against concussions. The case also alleged that Riddell and BRG Sports used a shaky study to advertise unsafe helmets and failed to upgrade the designs to prevent concussions. Judge Freeman decided the proper venue for…
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Claims Servicer Pushes for Portion of Concussion Settlement Award Despite Alleged Predatory Lending

Case Strategies Group, a claims management service, argued on November 16, 2017 before U.S. District Judge Anita Brody that former NFL players should be allowed to pay third party lenders and claims services providers a portion of their settlement awards from the NFL Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation. Last month, Christopher A. Seeger, co-lead counsel for the class of former players, argued the court should order the claims administrator to withhold portions of awards meant for lenders or claims services providers and block class members…
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Estate of Former UNC Player Sues NCAA and ACC

The estate of former University of North Carolina offensive lineman, Ryan Hoffman, has sued both the ACC and NCAA on claims of negligence, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment in relation to head injuries Hoffman sustained while playing for UNC. The action seeks to establish a class action including former UNC players or their representatives. Hoffman’s suit alleges the ACC and NCAA failed to provide adequate medical attention addressing severe and/or multiple concussions, failed to protect Hoffman and other players from brain trauma leading to…
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Ex-Players Argue NFL Moving the Goalposts on Requirements to Get Settlement Share

Sixteen retired NFL players urged a Pennsylvania federal court on Monday, November 13, 2017, to overturn a claims administrator’s changes to how claims are processed under a settlement agreement for brain injuries. The NFL reached the estimated $1 billion settlement in the concussion suit four years ago, and began accepting claims against the settlement eight months ago. Of the 1,400 players awarded damages from the league as part of the settlement, only 140 have gotten any sort of payout from the NFL. The court…
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Researchers Report Evidence of CTE in a Living Patient for the First Time

Researchers in Chicago report they have detected evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a living patient for the first time by detecting deposits of tau proteins. The degenerative brain disease currently can only be formally diagnosed after an autopsy. The study also confirmed that a “fingerprint” signature of CTE exists. More research is needed to verify the correlation, but it is a groundbreaking first step toward understanding CTE and developing a cure. The case study was published in the journal Neurosurgery this…
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