Marilyn Odendahl for www.theindianalawyer.com
Although he will not be taking part in the $112.5 million in attorney fees awarded to class counsel representing the players against the National Football League, Indianapolis attorney Dan Chamberlain is continuing to help his player-clients get their piece of the nearly $1 billion settlement.
Chamberlain, a partner at Cohen & Malad P.C. and former chair of the Brain Injury Association of America, has been involved for years in litigation against the NFL brought by retired players who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. He is representing former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Art Schlichter and the estate of the late running back Lawrence Phillips.
“My perspective, it is an insidious sport,” Chamberlain said, adding he believes the NFL has long known about the dangers of concussions and brain injuries to the players.
The former players in In re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, 2:12-md-02323, had their settlement with the NFL finalized in January 2017. The $982.2 million settlement will span the next 65 years. Class counsel filed its fee petition in February 2017.
Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted class counsel’s petition on April 5 for costs and attorney fees in the lawsuit. The lawyers now will collect $106.8 million for fees and $5.7 million to cover expenses.
Brody noted the case has continued for about five years. During that time, class counsel has billed more than 50,000 hours and will continue to bill as the settlement moves forward.
“The performance of Class Counsel regarding this complex Settlement Agreement has been extraordinary,” Brody wrote. “The fees requested here are well-earned.”
Chamberlain is helping former players get their portion of the settlement, but he said he is frustrated. Despite Brody wanting the process to take 30 days, the retired athletes are having to wait about 80 days to get their award.
Also, Chamberlain said, the former players are being pigeonholed into particular diagnosis categories that determine the size of their settlement. He pointed to one client who suffers from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease but was labeled as only having the latter, so the award was for a smaller amount. Chamberlain is now trying to have the man reanalyzed and reclassified.
Given the risks of concussions and the drop in enthusiasm for the sport, Chamberlain expects football will change but does not foresee the game going away completely.