If you have been following this site closely for some time, you may have noticed that I have been following a court case that was brought against the league’s 32 teams from a large number of former players as plaintiffs, who claim that the NFL irresponsibly and recklessly handled the distribution of painkillers and related substances while failing to inform the patients about them.
This particular claim, which was filed in March, was berthed out of an earlier suit that was dismissed, with the judge saying that the case would have more merit being taken against the teams via the Collective Bargaining Agreement rather than against the NFL as a collective entity.
You might recall that I wrote last month that the majority of claims were dismissed by the presiding judge, but that the cases of two former players—recently identified as Alphonso Carreker and Reggie Walker—would be allowed to proceed.
Carreker played for the Packers from 1984 to 1988, and then spent two years with the Broncos. A former first-round pick, he started 80 games and recorded a sack in Denver’s Super Bowl loss to the 40ers. Walker played from 2009 to 2014 with the Cardinals and Chargers, playing in 75 games with six starts, recording 98 tackles.
Flash forward a couple of weeks, and we learn that the broad swath of plaintiffs from the original case are beginning the process to file for an appeal, doing so with the Ninth Circuit, which is regarded as arguably the most pro-individual-rights court in the country. This may sound familiar because several player cases over the years have been brought here.
The process is set to determine whether or not the appeal process from the original ruling can proceed without the cases of the two aforementioned plaintiffs having their cases sorted out. Should their cases also wash out, for example, then the appeal might be outright rejected.
As Mike Florio writes in recounting the matter for Pro Football Talk, “basically, the plaintiff want to be able to fight the order dismissing most of the claims before the leftover claims go forward”. And as I mentioned in previous articles, there are at least four claims made by former members of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the organization.
Florio notes that the hearing will take place at the end of this month, so we will know more about the future of this matter then. “If successful”, he writes, “an appeal will proceed immediately”. But should it fail, “the appeal rights wouldn’t be eligible for pursuit until after the remaining claims from two players…are fully resolved by the presiding judge”.
Given the approaching need to renegotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement in a few years, it would probably be in the best interests of both sides to be able to resolve this particular case as amicably as possible, which is more important right now than expediency.