By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - Former National Football League players who oppose the league's settlement of lawsuits claiming it hid the risk of concussions on Monday asked a federal appeals court to throw out the comprehensive accord with more than 5,000 retirees.
In a filing with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, 10 retired players said the accord, potentially worth $1 billion, was unfair because it excluded players who have yet to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition linked to repeated blows to the head.
These players said the settlement unfairly favored currently injured retirees over those merely exposed to head trauma, and left a potential 19,000 players who could face but have yet to be diagnosed with neurological diseases without a remedy.
"It is the height of hypocrisy for the parties to defend a settlement that offers nothing for CTE to the vast majority of class members by arguing that those claims could not prevail at trial because the science is too new," a lawyer for the objecting players said.
The settlement, approved on April 22 by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, provides payments of up to $5 million to players who suffer from serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma.
Many players opted out of the settlement. Monday's objectors said "no settlement at all" was preferable to one that provides nothing for the "vast majority" of former players, who "will probably die with evidence of CTE in their brains."
Neither the NFL nor lawyers for the settling players immediately responded to requests for comment. They have until Sept. 15 to respond to the objections. There is no timetable for the appeals court to hear oral arguments or issue a decision.
The objecting players included in Monday's filing are Vincent Clark, Judson Flint, Robert Jackson, Ken Jones, Cleo Miller, Lou Piccone, Jim Rourke, Fred Smerlas, Elmer Underwood and J. David Wilkins.
The case is In re: National Football League Players Concussion Injury Litigation, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-2217.