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The Final Plea, By “Friends of the Court”

2016 November 3

In one last shot to reverse the NFL Concussion Settlement, more than 130 former NFL players and other “friends of the Court” filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court pleading for help.

The focus is again on CTE, and the settlement’s unfair treatment of thousands of former NFL players who will likely suffer from CTE’s debilitating effects in the future, yet receiving nothing under the settlement.

The 135 former NFL players say they are filing the brief “on behalf of a sampling of the many former NFL players whose interests have been sacrificed at the altar of this settlement.” Their brief highlights four former NFL players whose rights, according to their lawyers, were bargained away:

  • Tony Gaiter is a 42-year-old former player with the New England Patriots. Mr. Gaiter cannot drive a car or hold a job. He suffers from severe depression. He has a history of homelessness. He mutters to himself and has difficulty carrying on a conversation with friends and family members. He no longer cares about his appearance. According to his life-long friends and relatives, his condition has worsened over time. But none of these symptoms of his decline, all of which occurred after his retirement from the NFL and all of which are signs of CTE, are compensable under the current terms of the settlement.
  • Tracy Scroggins, a 47-year-old former Detroit Lion, also joins this brief. Mr. Scroggins has withdrawn from the world as a result of his bouts of aggression, anxiety, poor impulse control, and anger. He suffers from depression. He has severe insomnia, often going several nights without sleeping. He has difficulty with focus, attention, concentration, and memory. As a result of his symptoms, he can no longer hold a job and support himself. Mr. Scroggins’ symptoms and medical evaluations strongly indicate that he is suffering from CTE. But unless he also manifests a qualifying disease, the settlement will not compensate him for these losses.
  • Rose Stabler, the ex-wife of Hall of Fame quarterback Kenny Stabler, joins this brief. Mr. Stabler died in 2015, and his autopsy revealed severe stage-3 CTE. Before his death, Mr. Stabler suffered from mood swings and other mental issues that destroyed their marriage. Mr. Stabler and his heirs cannot recover for CTE injuries under the settlement as currently drafted because he died after the settlement was finalized. In its current form, the settlement compensates players who died with CTE prior to April 22, 2015, up to $4 million. Any player unfortunate enough to die with CTE after that date recovers nothing under the settlement, absent proof of another qualifying disease. Which means, although Kenny Stabler died with severe CTE on July 8, 2015, a mere two and a half months after the cut off, his estate can recover nothing under the current settlement.
  • William Floyd also joins. Mr. Floyd played with the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers during his seven-year NFL career. At age 44, he suffers from chronic headaches. He cannot stay on task. He is socially isolated. As his neuropsychological assessment concludes, “Mr. Floyd is totally disabled to the extent that he is unable to engage in any occupation for remuneration or profit.”

All told, the “friends of the court” urge the Supreme Court to grant review of the NFL Concussion Settlement.

What’s next?

The NFL and Class Counsel have until November 7 to file their opposition briefs—arguing why cert should be denied. Thereafter, the briefs will be circulated to the justices and a decision — whether to grant or deny cert — will be made sometime in December.

The amicus briefs filed in support of SCOTUS granting cert can be found here:

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