A few weeks ago, it was the players. Now, the National Football League is asking the Supreme Court to not reject a deal between the league and roughly 20,000 former players dealing with systemic injuries of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals expressly approved a settlement that was expected to provide the two certified classes with more than $900 million of relief. The approval of the settlement, authorized earlier this year, was met with resistance. A group of players petitioned the high court to reject the settlement because it left players who have not yet suffered the symptoms of CTE “out in the cold.”
In response, the NFL called the player’s allegations an attempt to “blow up the settlement in hopes of obtaining a more favorable one.” Specifically, the league persists that retired players who are not yet diagnosed with CTE can still become eligible for benefits under the settlement, so long as they are diagnosed with the disease. This, the league argues, eliminates the need for a player to die before receiving compensation to help treat CTE. The players argue that the court should de-certify the class and permit newly-affected players to sue for damages in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals based on two asbestos cases.
The player’s theory is rooted in the Supreme Court’s holdings of Amchen Products Inc. v. Windsor and Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., where the court permitted class-decertification over concerns of potentially injured claimants who were not parties to the litigation. This legal analysis, the player’s say, would afford those “left out in the cold” the opportunity to challenge the settlement in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has yet to announce any action on the case.