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The New York Post


For some NFL vets, getting their fair share of a $1 billion concussion settlement might feel like dodging tackles on the gridiron.

A slew of alleged scammers have been targeting ex-NFL players as they line up to apply for funds that are expected to range between $300,000 and $5 million each, as the league prepares to start paying its settlement of a six-year-old class-action suit charging that it hid the potential dangers of concussions.

Targets have included former Miami Dolphins cornerback Don McNeal, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and dementia after an NFL career that lasted from 1980 to 1989. In an interview, McNeal said he has been forced to resist offers for predatory loans as he scrapes by with an NFL pension that's worth less than $28,000 a year.

"I didn't do it. I wasn't tempted," McNeal told The Post, holding out hopes that he'll be able to keep between 65 and 70 percent of his settlement after lawyers and Medicaid get their cut.

Other players, anticipating they'll finally see their money late next year as they scramble to meet an August application deadline, haven't been so disciplined. About 10 percent of those in the settlement class, which comprises about 20,000 former NFL players, have taken out loans against their expected awards, according to an estimate by one lawyer representing the players who asked not to be named, citing pending litigation. Not every player in the class will wind up qualifying for money.

A pitch to former players obtained by The Post from a firm called Trial Fund Manager LLC was offering loans with rates of 24 percent - which it called "low cost capital" - better, it said, than competing loans charging 40 percent a year against potential concussion settlements.

Trial Fund Manager lawyer Anoush Hakimi told The Post his firm has since decided not to make concussion settlement loans.

In mid-March, five former NFL players who had registered for the settlement appeared to be working with a company called NFL Case Consulting, which, despite its name, isn't affiliated with the NFL, according to court papers recently filed by the league's claims administrator.

"Their literature has NFL all over it appearing to be the NFL," according to one former player who said he was hit up for a 15 percent processing fee.

Christopher Seeger - who, as co-lead counsel in the class-action suit has himself lately fielded complaints over lawyer fees in the case - has filed an injunction against NFL Case Consulting to stop what it views as improper communication with the settlement class.

Richard Scheff, a lawyer representing NFL Case Consulting, told The Post the firm is "working to assuage some concerns."

Late last month, Scheff, of law firm Montgomery McCracken, told the court in a letter that NFL Case Consulting is changing its name to Case Strategies Group. From now on, Scheff wrote, the firm will use disclaimers stating it is not a law firm nor is affiliated with or endorsed by the NFL or the court.

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May 8, 2017


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