The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Statements on Appeals of NFL Concussion Settlement

By Jeff Nixon
Nov. 07, 2016

A recent news article from the Washington Post entitled “Former NFL player Kevin Turner’s death caused by CTE, not ALS”  has created some unnecessary confusion regarding the NFL Concussion Settlement. 

The Washington Post interviewed Dr. Anne McKee who recently conducted the post-mortem autopsy of Kevin Turner's brain and said that his death was caused by CTE and not ALS.  The Post also interviewed Deepak Gupta, one of the attorneys representing former players who have appealed the case to the Supreme Court. 

Unfortunately, Mr. Gupta created a whirlwind of confusion by making it sound like Kevin’s family would receive nothing from the Settlement as a result of Dr. McKee's finding. 

"The one thing the settlement had going for it was that it delivered compensation to a player suffering present injury — people with a ‘qualifying diagnosis’,” Gupta said. “This means that the one person put forward as a representative for all the players with present injuries isn’t even in that category.”

That's a Bad Statement because it's totally false and irresponsible!

He goes on to say “Like Ken Stabler, it turns out that Kevin Turner is actually in the group that this settlement leaves out in the cold — players who die with a CTE diagnosis after the settlement”

That's an Ugly Statement because it's totally misleading and inaccurate!

Kevin’s Turner’s case is nothing like Ken Stablers. Kevin received a diagnosis of ALS before he died and therefore, he is entitled to the highest award under the Settlement.  If Ken Stabler had received a qualifying diagnosis before he died, he too could have been eligible for an award. 

Anne McKee also conducted the post-mortem examination of Ken Stabler's brain and said “He had moderately severe disease. His changes were extremely severe in parts of the brain like the hippocampus and amygdala, and those are the big learning and memory centers. And when you see that kind of damage in those areas, usually people are demented." 

I wrote about this in a previous article where I encouraged all former players to get examined as soon as possible. Especially if they believed they were suffering from some form of cognitive impairment. Here is a link to that article: Former NFL players need to get neurological exams before it’s too late. 

Now here's a Good and brutally honest statement from Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired NFL players in the concussion-related lawsuits: 

“We believe the Supreme Court should deny the appellants’ petitions, as these objections have now been exhaustively examined and overruled by both the District Court and the Third Circuit. Despite the fact that the claims process has not opened due to delays caused by these appeals, more than 11,000 retired players have sought enrollment in the settlement’s benefits. These appeals come with devastating consequences for the thousands of retired NFL players suffering from neurocognitive and neuromuscular injuries, and effectively stand between truly injured retired players and their sole prospect for obtaining benefits while still alive."

“While we are pleased several appellants have decided against petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court, it is clear the few lawyers still objecting to this settlement have motives other than what is in the best interest of the retired NFL player community. This is illustrated by their inaccurate and irresponsible portrayal of Kevin Turner’s recent brain study findings. These objectors ensured that Kevin, who spent the last years of his life fighting for this settlement, could not see it implemented.

“The settlement was specifically designed to compensate those exhibiting symptoms of the most severe conditions associated with CTE — dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. Kevin was diagnosed while living with ALS, and is therefore eligible for its benefits. The post-mortem examination of his brain that found CTE is important research, but has no bearing on his eligibility for settlement benefits. The BU Brain Bank today issued a statement; confirming that Kevin died of ALS."

“We hope the Court will reject this appeal and affirm the settlement so former players can finally receive the care and support they urgently need.”

Hopefully this statement will clarify any confusion regarding Kevin Turner’s specific situation and shed additional light on why the appeals should be dismissed by the US Supreme Court. If you would like to see the entire Brief in Opposition to the Appeals, you can read it at this link: Brief in Opposition