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The family of Junior Seau, the former San Diego Chargers player who committed suicide in 2012, has rejected the proposed concussion settlement between the NFL and thousands of former players.
Seau is one of the most prominent names in the class action suit against the NFL for concussion-related injuries, and his family's withdrawal from the settlement may jeopardize the deal for other former players. According to U-T San Diego, Seau's family stood to receive $4 million as part of the pending settlement.
Why did Seau's family turn down this money, and what does it mean for the settlement as a whole?
Junior Seau's death at his own hands in 2012 was in many senses a wake-up call for former players and their families. After an autopsy of Seau showed signs of severe head trauma, many started to link his death to the deaths of other former NFL players. His family brought suit in 2013 against the NFL for Seau's wrongful death, and his name was eventually included in the larger concussion suit against the NFL. This class action charged the NFL with knowing the medical dangers of repeated concussions on players, but doing little if anything to protect them from harm.
The NFL and thousands of former players have gone back and forth on settling this concussion suit, and in June, the NFL agreed to an amount more than the original $765 million to be distributed to players and their families. A judge gave preliminary approval of the settlement, but final approval may rest on how many class members (like Seau's family) will choose to accept the settlement.
By withdrawing and saying "no" to the proposed settlement with the NFL, the Seaus are now free to pursue their own wrongful death case against the NFL. Perhaps they believe a jury will offer the family more than the $4 million they would have received via the settlement. According to Deadspin, the family (through their attorney Steven Strauss) wants to "have the truth come out," something they might be denied if they accepted the settlement.
One player's family withdrawing from the NFL concussion settlement will not spell its doom. However, if other families of injured or dead former players decide to follow the Seaus example, it could eventually domino and "break up the entire deal," reports U-T San Diego.
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