Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Junior Seau's Family Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against NFL

When NFL legend Junior Seau fatally shot himself in the chest in 2012, his death had all the markings of other brain injury-related suicides by ex-football players, most notably that of Dave Duerson earlier the same year. Duerson had written down a request that his brain be examined for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries that can cause behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking, and, late in life, dementia. Though Seau didn't make the same request as Duerson, his family submitted his brain tissue to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who determined his brain showed definitive signs of CTE.

Seau's family opted out of the massive concussion class action lawsuit against the NFL (and the massive settlement), choosing instead to file a separate wrongful death claim against the league. The family and the NFL settled that suit last week, for an undisclosed amount.

A Tragedy

"I'm glad that it's resolved for them now so they can move on with their lives," said family lawyer Steven Strauss. "It took a long time. That was frustrating, but it was successfully settled, and that's good." While the amount of the settlement remains confidential, the NFL's class action settlement is paying about $4 million each to families -- like Seau's -- whose player-relatives were found to have CTE after their deaths.

That agreement, which has already paid out close to $330 million in compensation already, is expected clear more than $1.4 billion total over the next 65 years. It covers six qualifying conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and dementia.

A Legend

Seau played linebacker 12 seasons for the San Diego Chargers after a three-year college career at the University of Southern California. He then played another two years for the Miami Dolphins before finishing his career with a three-year stint for the New England Patriots. He was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection, was voted NFL Man of the Year in 1994, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, three years after his death and two years after his family filed their wrongful death lawsuit against the league. The NFL however, denied his daughter Sydney the opportunity to introduce her father during the ceremony.

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