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Baltimore judge: NFL must pay benefits for ex-player’s brain injury

A U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore has ordered the NFL’s pension plan to pay higher disability benefits to a retired player who apparently is suffering from an illness caused by multiple concussions.

Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled last week that the pension plan must pay former linebacker Jesse Solomon football degenerative benefits. Solomon began his 9-year career with the Minnesota Vikings in 1986 and played for six teams. His suit claimed that he had sustained 69,000 full-speed collisions.

According to court documents, in order for a player to receive higher football degenerative benefits, the disability must have manifested within 15 years of retirement. The documents say the pension plan’s board ruled that Solomon had not become totally and permanently disabled until after the March 31, 2010, deadline.

Solomon is represented by Cy Smith, a partner with Zuckerman Spaeder LLP in Baltimore. Smith also represented the late Mike Webster in the first appeal ever lost by the NFL pension plan.

“Judge Garbis recognized that Mr. Solomon suffered from disabling brain injuries based on the evidence presented in the case,” Smith said in a statement. “This ruling could be significant for the current national class action concussion litigation because the parties have refused to pay benefits to any living retiree with CTE, including Solomon, claiming that it is impossible to determine whether the disease exists until the player is dead.”