Seau's family opts out of proposed NFL settlement

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Junior Seau's Family Rejects Concussion Settlement


NEW YORK (AP) -- The family of Junior Seau has opted out of a proposed NFL legal settlement with former players over concussion-related injuries.

The family will continue its wrongful death lawsuit against the league. Seau, a star linebacker for 20 seasons who made 11 Pro Bowls, committed suicide in 2012.

"We have tried to communicate it that it is not satisfactory and all we met were deaf ears," the family's lawyer, Steve Strauss, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "The settlement does not include any value at all for the claims of his four children. Or the loss of his companionship or the loss of his future earnings."

More than 4,500 former players have filed a class action suit against the league, some accusing it of fraud for its handling of concussions. They include Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett and Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia. A federal judge preliminarily approved the league's settlement proposal in July, which could exceed $675 million in total damages and involve as many as 20,000 retired players.

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Seau's family opts out of proposed NFL settlement
SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 8: Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers on the field during a game against the Cincinatti Bengals at Jack Murphy Stadium on September 8, 1996 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 27-14. (Photo by Rogers Photo Archive/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: The family of Linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers celebrate the life of their son and retire his jersey before the game against the Tennessee Titans on September 16, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Tiaina Seau carries his son's jersey, Junior Seau #55 after the number was retured by the San Diego Chargers before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Qualcomm Stadium on September 16, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Antonio Garay #71 of the San Diego Chargers has a image of Junior Seau #55 cut into his hair during his teams NFL game against the Tennessee Titans on September 16, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Junior Seau's #55 is retired by the San Diego Chargers before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Qualcomm Stadium on September 16, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 09: A fan holds up a sign honoring late San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium on August 9, 2012 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 21-13. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: (L-R) LaDainian Tomlinson Bobby Ross and Dan Fouts look on during a memorial for former San Diego Chargers star football player Junior Seau at Qualcomm Stadium May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau was found shot to death at his home in what police way was a suicide. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA MAY 11: NFL running back LaDanian Tomlinson pays tribute Junior Seau during a public memorial at Qualcomm Stadium May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, was found dead in his home on May 2, an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: Fans look on during a public memorial for former San Diego Chargers star football player Junior Seau at Qualcomm Stadium May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau was found shot to death at his home in what police say was a suicide. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: Junior Siatunuu plays a Ukulele as he pays tribute to former NFL star Junior Seau during a public memorial at Qualcomm Stadium May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, was found dead in his home on May 2, an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: Friends, family members and supporters pay tribute to former NFL star Junior Seau during a public memorial at Qualcomm Stadium May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, was found dead in his home on May 2, an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: A San Diego Chargers fan looks on as people sign surfboards for Junior Seau before a public memorial for the former NFL star at Qualcomm Stadium May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau was found shot to death at his home in what police say was a suicide. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 11: A fan looks out over Qualcomm Stadium during a public memorial for former NFL star Junior Seau May 11, 2012 in San Diego, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, was found dead in his home on May 2, an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - A small memorial for NFL legend Junior Seau rest at the foot of a flag pole flying the San Diego Chargers flag at half staff in front of the San Diego Chargers Practice Facitilty on May 3, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 3: A memorial for NFL Legend Junior Seau builds as fans show their respect to the recently deceased football star at the entrance way of Seau's Restaurant in Mission Valley on May 3, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 3: A memorial for NFL Legend Junior Seau builds as fans show their respect to the recently deceased football star at the entrance way of Seau's Restaurant in Mission Valley on May 3, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
OCEANSIDE, CA - MAY 2: Wellwishers Jimmy Garcia (L) and Adam Alvarado create a cross made out of stones across the street from Junior Seau's beach home May 2, 2012 in Oceanside, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots was found dead by his girlfriend in his home with a gunshot wound to his chest in an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
OCEANSIDE, CA - MAY 2: A cyclist rides by a makeshift shrine in front of Junior Seau's beach home May 2, 2012 in Oceanside, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots was found dead by his girlfriend in his home with a gunshot wound to his chest in an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
OCEANSIDE, CA - MAY 2: Luisa Seau (C), the mother of Junior Seau who was found dead, weeps with friends and family members at the former linebacker's beach home May 2, 2012 in Oceanside, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots was found dead by his girlfriend in his home with a gunshot wound to his chest in an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
OCEANSIDE, CA - MAY 2: Luisa Seau (C), the mother of Junior Seau who was found dead, weeps with friends and family members at the former linebacker's beach home May 2, 2012 in Oceanside, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots was found dead by his girlfriend in his home with a gunshot wound to his chest in an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
OCEANSIDE, CA - MAY 2: Friends and family members of Junior Seau, who was found dead, console each other outside the former linebacker's beach home May 2, 2012 in Oceanside, California. Seau, who played for various NFL teams including the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots was found dead by his girlfriend in his home with a gunshot wound to his chest in an apparent suicide. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 7: During Patriots practice on the Gillette Stadium game field, Junior Seau was all smiles as he stretches before practice drills. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 7: New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau shouting at his teammates before the start of their game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The New England Patriots' Junior Seau walks on the field prior to Super Bowl XLII at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday, February 3, 2008, where the New England Patriots are trying to be the second undefeated team in NFL history. The 12-time NFL Pro Bowler was found dead in his home in Oceanside, California, Tuesday, May 2, 2012. (Karl Mondon/MCT via Getty Images)
Miami Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau during the game. Cleveland Browns defeated the Miami Dolphins 22-0 Sunday afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium, November 20, 2005 (Photo by Leon Halip/NFLPhotoLibrary)
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 6, 1998: Linebacker Junior Seau #55 of the San Diego Chargers warms up prior to a game on December 6, 1998 against the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland. Junior Seau9802 1998 Diamond Images
San Diego Chargers Junior Seau in action against the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The San Diego Chargers defeated the Houston Texans 24 to 3. (Photo by Allen Kee/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 562 -- Pictured: (l-r) NFL player Junior Seau during an interview with host Jay Leno on November 1, 1994 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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Former players and their families have the option to skip the settlement and pursue their own lawsuits. That's what Seau's family has done one month before the deadline to opt out, and Strauss hopes others will follow their lead.

"The decision to announce early is in the hope others will join, and that the league and the plaintiffs will look at adjusting the settlement," said Strauss, a partner at the law firm Cooley LLP. "It appears to the Seaus that the league is opting for expediency. The settlement process has completely prevented any information from coming out."

The settlement is designed to last at least 65 years and cover retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions sustained during their careers.

"If Mr. Strauss believes the $4 million his client is eligible for under the settlement is insufficient, he can choose to permanently forfeit these benefits and face all the significant risks associated with continued litigation," said Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired player plaintiffs in the NFL concussion settlement. "We would advise any class member against opting out of this agreement, considering the tremendous guaranteed benefits it provides."

The league declined comment on the Seau family's decision.

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