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NFL suffers major setback in concussion cases


The NFL’s initial argument in response to the concussion lawsuits is that there should be no concussion lawsuits. Specifically, the league argues that the labor agreement requires these claims to be pursued via private arbitration.

It’s a forum far more favorable to employers and business interests, putting the issue in the hands of a retired judge or lawyer and avoiding a jury, which often decides civil cases based on notions of sympathy to the injured and/or a desire to redistribute wealth.

The primary concussion litigation, with more than 4,000 plaintiffs, resulted in a proposed nationwide settlement before the question could be resolved as to whether the cases should be kicked out of court. Now, via, one of the other concussion cases has survived the NFL’s effort to deliver an early knockout punch.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, in a case brought by receiver Roy Green (pictured) and other former members of the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals, concluded that the lawsuit may proceed in Missouri state court. Which means that the discovery process will proceed.

Which means that the NFL has moved closer to the day on which it will have to disclose what it knew and when it knew it about the long-term risks of concussions.

The outcome also could result in the plaintiffs in the settled case to quit trying to persuade Judge Anita Brody to approve the settlement, opting instead to proceed with the litigation. If the players in that case secure the same victory Roy Green and others have realized in Missouri, the value of the claims would potentially skyrocket.