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NFL Accusing Lawyers in $1 Billion Concussion Settlement of Fraud

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01:  The NFL shield logo is seen following a press conference held by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (not pictured) at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

The NFL filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Friday in hopes of having a special investigator appointed to oversee attorneys and doctors representing the players who agreed to a $1 billion settlement with the league over concussions.

The motion, which was obtained by CNN's Homero De la Fuente, alleges there has been "deep and widespread" fraud committed by lawyers, doctors and players in response to complaints that payments have not been made fast enough. 

Specifically, the league alleged a law firm representing more than 100 players "coached" them on how to answer questions during their neuropsychological evaluations. 

The league also alleged a neurologist submitted 21 medical reports on retired players that featured identical vital signs for all of those examined. 

"We want to ensure that players and their families receive the benefits they deserve," NFL attorney Brad Karp said in a statement to De la Fuente. "Fraud threatens the integrity of the settlement and the prompt payment of legitimate claims. There is significant evidence of fraudulent claims being advanced by unscrupulous doctors, lawyers and even players. The appointment of a Special Investigator was specifically contemplated in the agreement, and will provide important additional tools to assist the independent, court-appointed administrators in identifying fraudulent claims and related misconduct."

The settlement, which was upheld by an appeals court in April 2016, states the NFL will pay out $1 billion to more than 20,000 retired players who have experienced cognitive and neurological issues since they stopped playing football. 

The league, according to the terms of the agreement, did not admit any fault. 

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On Friday, Christopher Seeger—one of the attorneys for the retired players—told the Associated Press he agreed with the appointment of a special investigator but emphasized the league cannot use claims of fraud to avoid making payments. 

"Unlike other NFL benefits programs, this settlement is overseen by the court, and the league cannot escape its responsibility," Seeger said. "We will make sure that former NFL players and their families receive every benefit they are entitled to under this agreement."

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