Family of ex-NFL star Seau objects to concussion lawsuit settlement

Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:57pm EST
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By Scott Malone

(Reuters) - The family of former San Diego Chargers star Junior Seau, who killed himself in 2012, raised objections on Friday to a $760 million proposal to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of former professional football players charging that the National Football League downplayed the risk of concussions.

Seau's family said the deal, which a federal judge earlier this month rejected as not setting aside enough money for such a large group of people, fell short by not treating people with wrongful-death claims differently from those who had simply been injured.

The proposed settlement set aside up to $5 million for each former player diagnosed with a certain brain condition resulting from years of repeated hits to the head in NFL games and practices.

For family members of retired or deceased NFL players, however, the proposed settlement would offer a minimal payment amounting to a few thousand dollars, attorneys for the Seau family said.

Some 4,500 former players were plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in Philadelphia, and up to 20,000 could ultimately be eligible for payment.

Seau, named to the Pro Bowl 12 times over his two decades in the league, died in 2012 after shooting himself in the chest. A study of his brain found that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating brain condition caused by repeated hits to the head that can lead to aggression and dementia.

The Seau family attorneys argued that any eventual settlement of the concussion lawsuit must take into account the needs of the survivors of players who died as a result of injuries sustained during play.

"Mr. Seau's children have their own claims for the wrong the NFL did to them. His children are not suing for their father's pain and suffering, they are suing for their own," the attorneys wrote.   Continued...

New England Patriots' Junior Seau answers questions during media day for the National Football League's (NFL) Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona January 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping