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NFL Concussion Settlement Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court

On Monday, September 26, thirty one (31) former NFL players filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to review the NFL Concussion settlement, joining the estate of Cookie Gilchrist, who also filed an appeal earlier in the month. While the attorneys at Locks Law Firm feel that the court is unlikely to hear the case and thus this is just a further delay in getting much needed settlement payments to those who are suffering debilitating neurocognitive diseases, there are no guarantees. In that light, let’s take a quick look at the process by which a case is either granted or denied their petition with the Supreme Court.

First, it’s important to remember that the U.S. Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear a case and usually only takes cases that could have “national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts, and/or could have precedential value.” In order for the court to accept a case, 4 of the 9 Justices must vote to accept it. In fact, the Court only accepts about 100-150 of the more than 7,000 cases – 1.5-2% – that it is asked to review each year.

There is no timeline in which the Court must issue their decision, but it is typically done within about 6 weeks and generally no longer than 90 days. Once a petition has been filed, the other party has 30 days within which to file a response. The decision to hear a case is made during conferences attended only by the Justices and in the overwhelming majority of cases, the Court simply releases a one-line order with no explanation for either granting or denying the certiorari.

While we wait to hear from the court, we will continue to work with our clients, ensure that we are ready to move, regardless of the decision by the Court.