Former NFL Stars Who Opted Out of the NFL Concussion Litigation Rejoin Class

Two former NFL stars, Joe Horn and Chris McAlister, became the latest players to reinstate themselves in the NFL’s uncapped concussion litigation, after initially opting out of the class action.

As background, the settlement established a bottomless fund over a 65-year span — with a potential payout of over $1 billion — to compensate a class of over 20,000 former NFL players now suffering from serious degenerative conditions linked to traumatic brain injuries, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Under the settlement, each player will receive payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million.

McAlister, a former cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens, had opted out of the concussion settlement — which was approved in 2015. Also, Horn, a former wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, initially opted out of the underlying concussion litigation in order to join a new suit initiated by Detroit’s Lions defensive end, Tracy Scroggins, who alleged that the NFL conspired to hide the consequences of head injuries, and even produced “junk science” to refute evidence of the degenerative brain condition, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In that suit, Horn maintained that he suffered from the early effects of CTE — which can only be diagnosed post-mortem. He filed his claims under the Racketeering Influence and Corruption Organizations Act, but that suit was conditionally transferred into the multidistrict litigation handling the settlement.

While it is unclear why Horn and McAlister decided to re-join the concussion settlement, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody signed off on the NFL’s and settling class’ stipulation allowing the pair to revoke their opt-outs. McAlister and Horn are the latest opt-out players to rejoin the settlement class, after four others did the same in January — just prior to the class registration period — which opened on February 6, 2017.

However, the settlement has not been without controversy. Several class members maintained that the settlement lacked scientific discovery and did not properly compensate those with CTE. Last year, those challenges came to an end when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a Third Circuit decision affirming the deal.

Over 200 former NFL players opted out of the settlement to preserve their claims against the NFL in November, 2014. Notably, as of March 10, only 157 of those opt-outs remained.

As of March 6, one month after players started registering with the class, 9,940 had registered — accounting for almost half of the proposed class.

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