By Joseph M. Hanna, of Goldberg Segalla
A suit brought by a former Chiefs player’s ex-wife has been dismissed in Pennsylvania federal court. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody ruled that the plaintiff, Anita Martin, could not pursue her claims alleging that the concussions sustained by her former husband, Christopher Martin, hurt their relationship.
Judge Brody explained that Ms. Martin failed to opt-out of an uncapped, multi-district settlement that the NFL had reached with roughly 5,000 players back in 2015. The settlement concluded allegations that the players sustained concussions and degenerative brain diseases from playing in the NFL. The settlement agreement paid out more than $500 million by July 2015.
Ms. Martin had the opportunity to opt-out of the settlement during a 90-day window from October 2014 to April 2015, before the court issued its final approval. Having failed to do so, Judge Brody held Ms. Martin’s current claims must be dismissed, as allowing her to proceed would be relitigating issues central to the 2015 settlement.
Ms. Martin argued that her ex-husband’s choice to opt-out of the settlement should have the effect of opting her out as well. However, the court was unconvinced, citing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacquelin, which held that an individual cannot opt-out of settlements on behalf of other class members, as doing so would infringe upon the individual’s due process rights.
Thus, due to Ms. Martin’s failure to individually opt-out of the settlement within the designated time frame, her suit was ultimately dismissed.
Martin v. Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, LLC (In re NFL Players’ Concussion Injury Litig.); E.D. Pa; No. 2:12-md-02323-AB; MDL No. 2323; No. 14-3381; No. 14-1995 1/3/19