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NFL Concussion Case Heads to Mediation

In April 2013, a hearing was held in Philadelphia over litigation filed against the National Football League by more than 4,000 players who allege that concussions suffered during their careers have adversely impacted their health. Plaintiffs include players who want their future health closely monitored, those already suffering from dementia, depression, and/or neurological disorders, and the families of those who have committed suicide after difficult bouts with mental illness.  The lawyers for the NFL then filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming that collective bargaining agreements were negotiated between the NFL and the players.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody is charged with the case.  Three months after the first hearing, and in response to the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case, Brody ordered both parties to mediation. The mediator is Layn Phillips, a retired federal judge. Lawyers for the players allege that the NFL concealed the dangerous cognitive effects of head trauma, and has been doing so for decades. The NFL argues that they have monitored the scientific research and followed it accordingly, issuing warnings when necessary.

Brody maintains that she will not make a decision until September, allowing significant time for mediation to take place. The mediation is non-binding – meaning that if the process isn’t working for either side, their cooperation is voluntary and without it the case will head back to court.

Mediation is often turned to in such complex cases, and can provide a way for the parties to be heard.  As opposed to a ruling in favor of either party, mediation, instead, works through each issue within the case.  All parties needs are identified and negotiated.  Legal fees are drastically lowered [imagine the costs of just the discovery portion of this case!].  Long, drawn out public court cases can be avoided.  In high profile cases, confidentiality can be maintained, and the media storm can be better managed as well.

Contact the experts at MDRS if you are involved with a situation that needs resolution.  MDRS has skilled and knowledgeable neutrals who are experts in Alternative Dispute Resolution matters.  (800) 536-5520 We can help.