NFL Concussion Class Members Allege Racial Bias in Settlement Administration

NFL Concussion Class Members Allege Racial Bias in Settlement Administration

Minami Tamaki LLP is representing former National Football League (“NFL”) players regarding the class action settlement in the matter In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2323.  The settlement resolved allegations that the NFL was responsible for brain injuries and long-term neurological problems suffered by former professional football players. Since approval of the settlement, players have filed claims through the settlement program, which has a duration of 65 years.  

On August 25, 2020, The New York Times reported that retired NFL players Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry have filed actions accusing the NFL of discriminating against Black players who filed dementia-related claims through the settlement program. 

Davenport and Henry allege that the NFL has been paying claims under the settlement using a formula that “explicitly and deliberately discriminates on the basis of race.”  The actions allege that Black players are “automatically assumed (through a statistical manipulation called ‘race norming’) to have started with worse cognitive functioning than White former players” when their claims are evaluated for a qualifying diagnosis of neurocognitive impairment. 

The two players allege that under this formula, if a Black former player and a White former player receive the same scores on costs of cognitive functioning, the Black player is presumed to have suffered less impairment.  The Black player is therefore less likely to qualify for compensation under the NFL concussion settlement. 

The NFL has denied Davenport and Henry’s allegations.  The action is venued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

While Minami Tamaki LLP is not affiliated with the Davenport and Henry filings, we believe as a general matter that any parties experiencing discrimination of any kind should fully explore their legal options.

Individuals seeking information on the settlement in the In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation matter can set up a free consultation with Minami Tamaki by contacting us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.

About the Author