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Seau family pursuing wrongful death instead of class-action suit

Most of our readers know the sad story of Junior Seau, the Florida Dolphins linebacker who spent two decades in the National Football League and ended his own life in 2012. As ESPN’s website noted on Sept. 3, after the 43-year-old shot himself with a .357 Magnum, his brain was studied by multiple neuroscientists who found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The CTE diagnosis supported the observations of friends and family who noted significant and troubling changes in the popular player’s behavior in his final years.

Now Seau’s family says that they are opting out of the NFL’s proposed settlement with former professional players. They made the announcement a month before the deadline for the 4,500 plaintiffs to opt out of the class-action suit and potentially pursue individual suits. The Seau family will continue to pursue their wrongful death suit against the league.

The class-action settlement proposal that has gained preliminary approval would award over $675 million to possibly 20,000 retired NFL players dealing with a multitude of neurological issues that they say were caused by concussions they suffered on the field. These include dementia and Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to one of the lawyers representing the players, the Seau family would have received $4 million under the current settlement terms.

The lawyer for the Seau family, however, said that it’s not enough. He says that it does not include “any value at all for the claims of his four children…the loss of his companionship or the loss of his future earnings.” Other plaintiffs have also complained that the proposed settlement is insufficient. The Seaus’ lawyer said he hopes that other plaintiffs will opt out of the settlement and thereby encourage an adjustment. He says the Seau family believes the NFL is only interested in “expediency.”

The players’ lawyer who spoke about the Seaus’ decision, however, says that he would not advise other plaintiffs to opt out. He said that it provides “tremendous guaranteed benefits.”

Putting a dollar figure on the loss of a loved one via a wrongful death suit may seem impossible for bereaved family members. However, Florida lawyers with experience in these cases know what financial factors to consider. They can also calculate less-concrete but very real factors like loss of companionship. By doing this, survivors can seek damages that will help them go on with their lives without their loved one.

Source: CBS Florida, “Seau Family Opts Out Of Proposed NFL Settlement” Sep. 04, 2014

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