Buyer Beware: Switching Counsel is at an All-Time High in the NFL Concussion Litigation


The NFL Head Trauma litigation resulted in an uncapped settlement in record speed.  Unfortunately, as that settlement has been pending in the appeals court, an unusual and disheartening number of players are changing counsel.  Some players have left our firm for other lawyers, and some have come to us and requested that we replace their current lawyers.  But most players change counsel because lawyers, unconnected to this case at the beginning, have improperly solicited players to leave their original lawyers.  Sadly, the lawyers who are doing this are new to the litigation and were uninvolved in the extraordinary efforts that brought the cases in 2011 and 2012 and developed the viable, large, and uncapped settlement for the players.  To be clear, these new lawyers entered the litigation after Judge Brody approved the settlement.  None of them understand the science, diagnostics, and requirements of the settlement agreement as well as the men and women who filed the first cases, consolidated those cases before Judge Brody, and brought the NFL to the negotiating table.  In our opinion, they are opportunists, and we caution all players to beware of what they are selling.

The Locks Law Firm would never approach players who are already represented in this or any other litigation.  In our view, that practice is unethical and most likely improper interference with an existing contract.  Nor would we encourage any player to leave lawyers who are currently representing them.

If you are a former NFL player, and therefore a member of the proposed class eligible for the settlement, you have the right to be represented by any attorney you choose, whether or not you have already retained our firm or any other firm.  There are many fine lawyers involved in the litigation, but most of them are with the firms that understood in 2011 and 2012 what the NFL had done to the players and how the players suffered.  That leadership, including the Locks Law Firm, chose to act long ago and brought this case against the most powerful sports league in the world with no guarantee of success.  At that time, public sentiment was split between the interests of players and those of the owners.  We invested millions of dollars of our own money and countless hours to put the case together and advance it to a stage where the NFL, in essence, gave in.  Now, public sentiment is wholly for the players.  We helped shine light on what neuroscientists, the American public, and even the NFL itself now agree is a serious public health problem.  No one is running away from this issue.  The NFL has agreed to pay thousands of players substantial sums for diagnosed brain injury under the pending settlement agreement and under collectively bargained disability benefit plans.  Tens of millions of dollars in public and private money now finance biomedical research aimed at helping victims of head injury in football, other contact sports, and various kinds of accidents.  This wasn’t true in 2011, but now it is.

As a result, we are disheartened by the fact that lawyers with no background in the litigation are actively soliciting players away from their current counsel, and we firmly believe that the lawyers who are engaged in that practice are not acting in the players’ interests.  They are acting in their own interests – with rank opportunism – and we encourage players to see that for what it is.

Moreover, at this juncture in the case, no lawyers know more about the science, procedural issues, legal arguments, player injuries, and diagnosis than the lawyers in leadership positions in this case – in particular, the partners at the Locks Law Firm.  On an individual basis, we ensure that every client currently symptomatic and at risk receives the best medical evaluation and legal counsel so that the client’s rights are protected and preserved.  The Locks Law Firm ensures that each and every symptomatic client receives a swift, competent, and accurate diagnosis by the best neuroscience professionals in the nation, so that the clients are:

  • prepared to file a claim if and when the settlement is fully and finally approved;
  • prepared to seek benefits under applicable disability benefits plans; and
  • prepared to litigate the case further, if for any reason the settlement is not approved by the appellate courts.

No one in this litigation is more knowledgeable regarding these issues than David Langfitt and Gene Locks, both of whom are original members of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee (PEC), first appointed by Judge Brody in 2012 at the outset of the case.  On an ongoing basis, we work every day with outstanding board-certified neurologists in every region of the country to evaluate and diagnose symptomatic players in every age group.  We have addressed exceptionally complex cases and fully understand the nuances of the settlement agreement.  To the extent you are not represented by counsel and would like to consult us or notify us of a symptomatic condition or concern, please do so.  To the extent lawyers try to solicit you away from other counsel, please be cautious.  You might do well to contact your existing lawyers first before accepting representation from lawyers who see an opportunity and have jumped into the litigation long after the NFL agreed to settle the matter.

From the beginning, the Locks Law Firm has acted in the players’ best interests and will always do so.