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Seau Family Opts Out Of NFL Concussion Settlement

Junior Seau announces his retirement from the NFL at the Chargers Training Facility in San Diego, Aug. 14, 2006.
Donald Miralle
Junior Seau announces his retirement from the NFL at the Chargers Training Facility in San Diego, Aug. 14, 2006.

The family of the late San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau opted out of a proposed settlement over concussion litigation with the National Football League and will pursue their own claim, their lawyer said Wednesday.

NFL says concussions dropped in 2013

The NFL says concussions decreased by 13 percent overall during the 2013 season from the previous year, and the number of concussions coming from helmet-to-helmet contact was down 23 percent.

Those are the findings of the NFL's Health and Safety committee, which released its report to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Those numbers are notable considering concussions were a particular focus for the league during the 2013 season, which included independent neurologists on the sidelines and unaffiliated athletic trainers watching for injuries from the press box.

Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president of health and safety, says those numbers are a strong indicator players are understanding the rule changes the league has made to try to lessen head injuries. He cautions it's just one year and the numbers may rise in the future, but the goal is steady, long-term decline in concussions.

Source: Associated Press

The family joined the lawsuit filed by more than 4,500 former players after Seau shot himself in May 2012 in his Oceanside home. His son said the 20-year NFL veteran suffered from wild mood swings, irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression that got progressively worse over time.

An examination of Seau's brain by federal health officials determined that he suffered from a debilitating brain condition common to people who have suffered repetitive head injuries.


The listed plaintiffs on the Seau lawsuit are Seau's ex-wife, Gina; their children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter; and Bette Hoffman, trustee of his estate.

Steve Strauss, the family's lawyer, said in a statement that the settlement, "including its failure to value wrongful death claims, suggest that the NFL is only interested in expediency, not a fair and transparent resolution."

Several other plaintiffs have also rejected the settlement, which was reached in July and given preliminary approval by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia.

It would remove a cap on the overall amount of money the NFL would have to pay out. Damage amounts awarded to individual retired players would be based on their age and physical condition.

"No discovery was taken in this case and the settlement was negotiated by a small number of members of the plaintiffs' counsel and the NFL," Strauss said. "All other class members and their counsel were shut out completely and did not have their claims represented."


He contended that the NFL "hid and misrepresented" the serious risks associated with concussions from players and their families for decades.

Continuing with the Seau family's litigation "is the best course of action to help break the league's pattern of secrecy and denial at the heart of the present claims," Strauss said. "Junior Seau's suicide was a message to the world and the NFL about the dangers facing former players. It is past time for those dangers, and the NFL's misdeeds, to come to light."

The lawyer said he hopes the court will move forward with the Seau case as soon as possible.