Tag Archives: disability

Judge Declines to Intervene in Case Involving Football Player

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt of a case summary that appeared in the December issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. For this summary and the case citation and many others like it, consider subscribing to the Reporter at https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

A federal judge has declined to reopen the claim of a former professional football player, who alleged that he was entitled to more disability benefits than he was originally awarded by the NFL’s Retirement Board.

The plaintiff began playing in the NFL in 1995. His 8-year career included stints at multiple teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, and the Atlanta Falcons. After his retirement, he began experiencing health issues, such as anxiety, sleep problems, social withdrawal, headaches, memory loss, and sensitivity to lights. The plaintiff claimed many of the issues were attributable to the head trauma he suffered as an NFL player.

Before beginning its analysis, the court noted that the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan (the Plan) provides retirement, disability, and related benefits to eligible players. Under the Plan, players can file applications to receive benefits. The Retirement Board (the Board) administers the Plan and possesses the sole authority to grant or deny players’ applications.

“Once a player files his application, the Board makes an initial determination as to whether the player is totally and permanently disabled,” wrote the court. “If the Board finds that the player is totally and permanently disabled, the player is entitled to total and permanent disability benefits (T & P benefits). However, the amount of money the player receives depends on which of four T& P benefit categories the Board determines is appropriate. The four categories are: Active Football, Active Non-football, Football Degenerative, or Inactive. The latter two categories are relevant here.

“The Plan defines a Football Degenerative injury as a disability that ‘arises out of League football activities, and results in total and permanent disability before fifteen years after the end of the Player’s last Credited Season.’ The Plan provides that the Inactive category applies if ‘(1) the total and permanent disability arises from other than league football activities while the Player is a Vested Inactive Player, or (2) the disability(ies) arises out of League football activities and results in total and permanent disability fifteen or more years after the end of the Player’s last Credited Season.’ Thus, the difference in the two categories is whether or not the player’s injury arose from football activities. Importantly, the minimum benefits for the Football Degenerative category is no less than $4,000 per month while the minimum benefits for the Inactive category is offset by any disability benefits provided by an employer other than the NFL or another employer. Thus, it is financially beneficial for a player to be placed in the Football Degenerative category.”

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A New Lawsuit Seeking NFL Neurocognitive Disability Benefits Highlights the Adverse Impact of Subconcussive Hits Regularly Experienced by Linemen

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from a piece written by attorney Richard C. Giller for the November issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. To see the rest of the story, please subscribe to CLR at https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

By Richard C. Giller, Esq.

Last month, former NFL offensive lineman Darryl Ashmore filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District Florida against the NFL Player Disability and Neurocognitive Benefit Plan, claiming that the Plan wrongfully denied him benefits solely because he had not traveled to San Antonio, Texas, and to Tampa and Palm Beach Florida over a six day period for medical examination, despite debilitating injuries suffered over the course of his 11-year NFL career.

According to his complaint, Ashmore suffers from “multiple cognitive and mental health conditions” including “encephalopathy, dementia, memory loss, depression, anxiety, and impaired concentration” and it is further alleged that Ashmore’s counsel provided the NFL with a doctor’s letter establishing that Ashmore’s “medical conditions prevent[ed] him from flying and recommended that any examination be conducted by a physician located in Florida.”

The Ashmore case was assigned to Judge Kenneth A. Marra, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002 which, coincidentally, was the same year that Ashmore retired from the NFL.  The complaint did not include any exhibits and the Plan has not yet filed an answer in the lawsuit.  While the dispute over whether the NFL acted reasonably in scheduling Ashmore’s doctor’s appointments in three different locations and denying Ashmore’s claim for neurocognitive benefits may well resolve itself rather quickly, but the medical issues noted in the complaint highlight …

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Kevin Turner Is in ‘Dire’ Situation

Kevin Turner, who has been a catalyst for change in how the public views the consequences of concussions on the football field, is near the end of his battle with the incurable disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

A Washington Post story this week described Turner’s predicament as follows:

“Turner’s mind is sound — his humor, personality, charm all still there. But the disease has devastated the facade. When his nurse removes his shirt, Turner’s bones are outlined against his skin, the once-powerful muscles of an NFL fullback surrendered to atrophy. He receives oxygen through a port in his neck and nutrition through a tube to his stomach.”

His friend, Craig Sanderson, told the paper: “Honestly, had he not chosen to go on a ventilator he probably wouldn’t be here right now. He’d be gone. That’s what we were preparing for really. It was that dire a situation.”

For the story and very powerful video that accompanies it, go here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/kevin-turner-leading-plaintiff-in-nfl-concussions-lawsuit-battles-als/2014/12/15/b4c369ac-8137-11e4-b936-f3afab0155a7_story.html

 

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