Upon Further Review: Duerson Objectors Will Not Appeal NFL Concussion Settlement

May 21, 2015

       A group of 10 former NFL players and their families, including the Estates of Dave Duerson and Forrest Blue, have elected not to appeal Judge Anita Brody’s April 22, 2015 Order Granting Final Approval of the NFL Concussion Settlement.

            Dave Duerson played in the NFL from 1983 to 1993.  He was selected All-Pro four times and, in 1987, was named the “NFL Man of the Year.”  He won a Super Bowl ring with the Chicago Bears in 1985 and another with the New York Giants in 1990.  He committed suicide at the age of 50 in 2011, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was diagnosed during the study of his brain performed by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which was done at the specific request of Mr. Duerson.  He is survived by three sons and a daughter.

            Forrest Blue played 10 years in the NFL with both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts.  He was NFL All-Pro 1971-1974 while with the 49ers.  Mr. Blue also died in 2011, at the age of 65.  His brain was studied by the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and was found to have CTE.  He is survived by two daughters. 

            The 10 “Duerson Objectors” are all represented by the Chicago law firm Corboy & Demetrio.  Thomas A. Demetrio and William T. Gibbs are their principal attorneys. 

            Demetrio stated:

The Duerson family have honored their father’s wishes and legacy by consistently speaking out against the NFL for its flawed concussion policies and flagrant denial of the long-term perils of suffering repeated head trauma while playing professional football.  However, now, rather than delaying implementation of the settlement’s programs and benefits for retired NFL players, the ‘Duerson Objectors’ will step aside and respect Judge Brody’s Final Approval Order.

            Demetrio added: 

We were able to help improve the original settlement by seeing Judge Brody extend compensation for death with CTE to the families of former players from the original July 7, 2014 cut-off date to the date of Final Approval.  In addition, we applaud Judge Brody for stating in her April 22, 2015, Memorandum in Support of her Final Approval Order:  ‘. . . . the Settlement recognized that knowledge about CTE will expand, and requires the Parties to confer in good faith about possible revision to the definitions of Qualifying Diagnoses based on scientific developments.’  We also applaud Judge Brody for publicly stating her willingness to monitor the continued good faith pledge that all concerned, including the NFL, will treat the retired players fairly over the next 65 years. 

            Tregg Duerson, Dave’s son and the administrator of his Estate, stated:

My family saw, first-hand, the devastating effects of repetitive head trauma.  We watched my father’s memory, mood, behavior, and decision-making abilities suffer greatly.  For the hundreds, if not thousands, of families witnessing these same signs and symptoms, we encourage them to timely take advantage of the settlement benefits to ensure that if and when disease strikes, they will be compensated.  All NFL retirees, even if they feel great today, by registering timely can quickly seek the assistance they may require that wasn’t there for my dad.

            Gibbs added: 

While this settlement, like all settlements, is not perfect, it will allow former NFL players and their families to identify later-in-life cognitive decline earlier than in the past and compensate those suffering from the significant ramifications from their NFL careers.  These men, who gave so much to the game they loved, and their families who suffer alongside them will now benefit greatly.

            The NFL Concussion Settlement was first announced in August, 2013.  According to Demetrio, since that time, “with the help of the ‘Duerson Objectors,’ as well as many other objectors, modifications and amendments to the agreement have been made by Judge Brody which have resulted in a more favorable and now uncapped settlement fund supplying compensation for various neurodegenerative and neurocognitive diseases.”

             Demetrio further stated:

It is our hope that those who have already filed a notice of their intent to appeal reconsider and let the current retirees who are in dire straits receive, finally, some semblance of dignity and an improved qualify of life.