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Marino, others pile on for NFL concussion lawsuit

Dan Marino has joined the ranks of retired professional football players signing on to concussion lawsuits against the NFL. The Hall of Fame quarterback and 14 other former players filed their complaint in federal court just after Memorial Day. To date, more than 4,500 players have accused the NFL of covering up or misrepresenting the long-term risks associated with concussions.

Marino played 17 seasons of pro ball, but his record does not show repeated concussions or head injuries. Now 52, he has been off the field for 15 years, working as a sports analyst for much of the time. Neither Marino nor his agent were available following the announcement of the lawsuit; as a result, reporters have no information about any health issues Marino is facing. 

Court documents show that this lawsuit is similar to the other concussion suits. The plaintiffs say the NFL acted with “carelessness, negligence [and] intentional misconduct” regarding the long-term effects of concussions. They are asking the court for money damages to pay for medical treatment and to compensate them for their long-term or chronic injuries.

The NFL may have thought the concussion controversy was over last August when the league and plaintiffs reached a settlement. The court, however, rejected the agreement as inadequate.

The settlement was for $675 million, with the NFL creating a Monetary Award Fund to compensate players with a “qualifying diagnosis.” The math did not add up for the court.

The court was not convinced that would be enough money to compensate all of the eligible players. The judge pointed out that there are about 20,000 retired NFL players still alive.

Assume that a player diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is awarded as much as $3.5 million and a player diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease is awarded $5 million, she continued. (Both diseases are common health risks for pro football players.) If just 10 percent of all players make claims over the life of the fund, the fund will run dry before the league meets its obligation.

It isn’t clear if Marino and his co-plaintiffs will sign on to a revised settlement. Nor is it clear if or when the parties will reach a revised settlement.

Source: USA Today, “Dan Marino joins concussion lawsuit against the NFL,” Lindsay H. Jones, June 2, 2014  

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