Former NFL football players say attorneys taking too much of CTE settlement

Former NFL football players say attorneys taking too much of CTE settlement

He was a beast on the football field blocking for Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen while with the Oakland Raiders. 

At Penn State, Steve Smith was a captain of the 1986 National Championship team.

But the once strong fullback's body began to fail him.

"He was tripping and falling. He had weakness in his hands that he noticed,” his wife Chie Smith told WFAA.

6 years after retiring from the NFL, Smith was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that attacks cells in the brain and spinal cord.

He can no longer walk, speak, or move. His wife remembers the night he could no longer breath on his own.

"He just looked like he was not getting enough air not gasping but he could barely talk. His face looked like it was melting."

For 11 years now he's spent his life on a ventilator and bedridden in his home.

“Our lives center around his daily care."

Doctors believe Smith's brain disease is a result of repeated blows and concussions to his head playing football. It's called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE.

Smith now only communicates through a computer which allows him to type with his eyes.

"Did you have any idea that concussions and playing football would lead to ALS?"

Smith typed, “never.”

Thousands of ex-pro football players with CTE filed a class action lawsuit against the NFL.

They settled the case for just over a billion dollars.

Players like Smith are set to receive 5 million dollars each and that's money Smith's wife needs to help care for him.

"It's depleted our life savings."

But now the families have a new problem...their own attorneys.

Some of the attorneys want 25-40 percent of what the players are getting.

That's on top of the 112.5 million dollars from the NFL that the attorneys are splitting.

“We are thinking we are over and done with and now we have a new battle on our hands."

Chie Smith fired her attorney and is now being represented for free by lawyer Cat Watters.

Watters says attorneys should not be entitled to both the fees from the class action lawsuit and individual fees because they did not do separate work for each person.

"In Steve Smith's case, prior attorney has not shown the court that they performed individual work for Steve smith in order to collect fee."

Smith's former attorney is filing for a lien on their award so they won't be able to collect.

More than a dozen NFL wives including Chie Smith are asking the judge to intervene and stop the attorneys from taking the money.

Steve Smith now says if he knew playing football would lead to all of this he would never have played.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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