Former NFL players are suing over disability claims and accusing the league of systematic bias

Former NFL players are suing over disability claims and accusing the league of systematic bias

  • Finance
  • February 12, 2023
  • No Comment
  • 4

Several former National Football League players filed a class action lawsuit in federal court Thursday against the league’s benefits plan, its board of trustees and commissioner Roger Goodell, alleging that the board and benefits plan wrongly denied benefits to former players.

Plaintiffs include Willis McGahee, Eric Smith, Jason Alford, Daniel Loper, Michael McKenzie, Jamize Olawale, Alex Parsons, Charles Sims, Joey Thomas and Lance Zeno.

The lawsuit alleges that “repeated lies; material misrepresentations; active obfuscation; flagrant violations of” relevant statutes, regulations and jurisprudence, as well as “illogical interpretations of the terms” of the benefit plan and “reliance on conflicting advisors” have “created a pattern of systemic bias” against disabled NFL players.

“The plaintiffs are seeking to draw back the curtain on behalf of all similarly situated former NFL players and to bring to light many relevant factual and legal issues regarding the plan,” the group said in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs said the board’s conduct was “motivated by financial considerations to limit the payment of benefits” under the plan.

The plaintiffs are represented by multiple teams of attorneys, including attorney Chris Seeger, who led the NFL concussion settlement that netted $1 billion for former players in 2016. The lawsuit aims to recover benefits that players claim are owed to them and to ban further violations of the terms of the plans.

The players also said the board acted hostile and used other “unscrupulous tactics” to deny claims. They also claimed that the benefit plan decisions were made by physicians who had an interest in refusing benefits: instead of being “neutral physicians,” the physicians are “selected and paid by the board,” which does not care about the collection of Statistics and Statistics strives to ensure that doctors are “indeed neutral and unbiased”.

The appeal also alleged that the board failed to consider all relevant material for claims, and instead supported its doctors’ conclusions. This pattern, the players said, shows a pattern in which the board repeatedly violates its duty of loyalty to the players.

In a news conference Thursday morning, Samuel Katz, a disability rights attorney who has represented NFL players in other court cases, said the data showed a board-paid neuropsychologist earned $820,000 in direct and indirect compensation. In a statistical sample of 29 performance claims, the neuropsychologist denied all 29 claims, the lawsuit states.

Charts included in the lawsuit appear to show that in many cases, physicians who denied more claims received higher compensation from the board.

In a statement, the NFL said the benefit plan “provides more than $330 million annually to deserving players and their families.”

“The NFL-NFLPA disability plan is fair and administered by a professional staff overseen by a board of directors composed of an equal number of representatives from the NFL Players Association and the league, which includes retired players,” said the league. “This body will review the Office’s activities and the operation of the benefits program, including any disputed claims for benefits, to ensure retired players who are eligible for disability benefits receive them as intended.”

In a press conference Thursday morning, several players spoke candidly about what the lack of disability benefits meant to them. Eric Smith, a former New York Jets player who also spent some time coaching in the NFL, said he was in “pain every day, every day” and needed a prosthetic shoulder at the age of 39.

Smith said when he traveled from New Jersey to North Carolina to be evaluated by a benefit plan doctor after consulting his own doctor, his appointment lasted just “five minutes.” According to the lawsuit, he was denied services in 2013 by a doctor who had a 100% denial rate in a sample. He appealed the case in 2014, but the appeal was denied.

“It’s just frustrating. You think of everything we’ve done for her, all the hurts we’ve been through. You put your body on the line for them and try to make your team the best it can be… and when you’re done, it’s ‘Here’s our disability plan. We take care of them. Here’s your five years of insurance, after that you’ll be fine,'” Smith said. “It’s a sham.”

In 2015, the lawsuit alleges that Smith was re-examined by a doctor who was paid just over $34,000 by the board. He was approved for some performances. Over the next year, that doctor’s compensation dropped to just over $16,700, the lawsuit alleges. When Smith requested additional services, he was seen by several doctors, all highly paid by the board, and those additional services were denied, the lawsuit says.

Willis McGahee, a former NFL running back who played for three teams during his 11-year professional career, said he’s also struggled with pain and emotional turmoil related to the lack of care, saying that some days it ” hard to get out of bed.” He said in the press conference that he had 15 surgeries, and his own doctors told him that because of the arthritis and joint injuries he suffered, his body “looked like an 80-year-old man “.

In 2016, he said he had been denied a disability pension by the board. In a sample of 33 exams performed by the neurologist who examined McGahee, the doctor said that in none of those cases, according to the lawsuit, did he find a player eligible for benefits. McGahee was also seen by a neuropsychologist who, according to a random sample, has an 87.5% rejection rate, the lawsuit says. A 2020 appeal from McGahee was also denied. The doctors who examined him at the time were also sampled, and those samples found they never awarded a player any benefits, the lawsuit alleges.

“It’s time for me to stand up. It’s time for other players to stand up and speak up,” McGahee said. “We’re not just going to sit back and let it all fall on us and take the beating. I did it for five years. It got me nowhere. It’s time to open my mouth to say something.”

Trending News

Related post

Talks collapse, LAUSD strike and school closures scheduled for Tuesday

Talks collapse, LAUSD strike and school closures scheduled for…

Last-minute talks have failed to avert a strike Tuesday that will shut down Los Angeles public schools and lead to massive…
Biden vetoes his first presidency, rejecting the GOP-led bill to reverse the ESG investment rule

Biden vetoes his first presidency, rejecting the GOP-led bill…

Millions are retiring with no savings Millions of Americans nearing retirement with no savings 02:22 WASHINGTON — President Biden on Monday…
Magic Johnson joins a bidding group to buy Commanders

Magic Johnson joins a bidding group to buy Commanders

Earvin “Magic” Johnson has joined a group led by Josh Harris bidding for ownership of the Washington Commanders, sources told ESPN…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *