ESPN's Outside The Lines reports today that lawyers involved in the concussion case expect "no more than a few hundred" of the approximately 18,000 former NFL players involved to opt out of the settlement. Just nine players have filed paperwork to opt out so far, OTL reports, and the deadline is Tuesday.
Many lawyers and players said they are confronting a hard reality: Despite deep misgivings, they stand to collect nothing if they withdraw and would still face an expensive, uphill legal battle against the NFL. The first step would be a return to the NFL's demand that the concussion lawsuits be dismissed under a rule of law known as preemption. Because the players and the owners are bound by a union agreement, the NFL argues, the disputes must be submitted to arbitration, a process far less promising to players. Some lawyers believe that Brody may dismiss some of the cases on this basis after she approves the settlement.
"It's just a terrible situation," said Jason Luckasevic, a Pittsburgh attorney who began working on the issue in 2007 and filed the first concussion case against the NFL four years later. "This deal is not anywhere near what it should have been."
There have been small pockets of opposition, including the family of Junior Seau, but they might not be enough to stop U.S. District Judge Anita Brody from approving the deal next month. The concussion settlement at one point looked like a disaster, but it still might happen because of the age-old fear that something is better than nothing.
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