Fourth Circuit Says NFL Retirement Plan Wrongfully Denied Request for Higher Benefits

On Friday, June 23, 2017, the Fourth Circuit affirmed a Maryland District Court’s 2016 ruling that the National Football League’s Retirement Plan wrongfully denied a request by former NFL linebacker Jesse Solomon for a higher level of benefits. Solomon sought a higher level of benefits as a result of cognitive impairments he has suffered due to head injuries sustained while playing nine years in the NFL. As a result of the affirmation that the Retirement Plan “abused its discretion” in Solomon’s case, the NFL will forced to pay the higher level of benefits to Solomon as a former player whose disability has manifested within 15 years of retirement.

In his lawsuit, Solomon claimed that over the duration of his career he sustained approximately 69,000 full-speed collisions and alleged that he experienced too many hits to the head to count and “lost a sense of who he was.” In 2010 and 2011, it was determined that Solomon was likely suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE which has been the main subject of concussion-related litigation against the NFL in recent years.

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