To litigate or arbitrate?
That’s the task currently assigned to a federal judge in Philadelphia presiding over the massive concussion injury litigation against the National Football League.
This week, that jurist, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, signaled that the parties in the multidistrict litigation should expect a decision in less than two month’s time regarding whether or not the case could move forward, or if it gets booted from the tort system and into the hands of a labor arbitrator.
In a one-sentence notice docketed on June 10, Brody, who sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said that she expects to issue her decision on the NFL’s motion to dismiss on July 22.
Brody said her notice was being issued in response to “inquiries by counsel and other interested parties.”
The judge overseeing the National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation heard oral arguments at the federal courthouse back in April on the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case in its entirety.
The league argues that the former players’ claims are preempted by the collective bargaining agreement while lawyers representing the thousands of ex-players and their spouses deny that the claims are covered by the CBA, and contend the matter belongs in civil court.
The plaintiffs allege that the NFL has long misrepresented the long-term health dangers associated with on-the-field head injuries.
The litigation became so voluminous in the nearly two years since the first case was filed that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ultimately ordered the creation of an MDL docket at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania where the numerous cases would be coordinated and consolidated, and overseen by Brody, a veteran U.S. District judge.
According to the website NFLConcussionLitigation.com, which keeps a running tally of the suits as they are filed, there were more than 4,800 named player-plaintiffs in the 242 individual concussion-related lawsuits as of June 1.
Including the former players’ spouses, the individual plaintiffs total more than 5,800, according to the website.
The first concussion suit against the NFL was filed back in August 2011.