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Frederick said the contract is "silent" on latent head injuries, making the lawsuits appropriate.
Brody is not expected to rule for several months, and the cases could take years to play out if her ruling is appealed, as expected.
Players’ family members on hand for the hearing included Kevin Turner, a former Philadelphia Eagles running back now battling Lou Gehrig’s disease; Dorsey Levens, a veteran running back who made a 2012 documentary on concussions called "Bell Rung" and Mary Ann Easterling, whose husband, former Atlanta safety Ray Easterling, was the lead plaintiff in the litigation before he committed suicide last year.
Attendees might have momentarily thought they were on the playing field, as a power problem at the federal courthouse caused muggy conditions in the courtroom. The judge insisted that the well-heeled crowd of lawyers remove their suit jackets. Frederick did so, while Clement declined.
Both more typically find themselves at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Clement has fought gay marriage laws and state health care mandates, and Frederick has pursued consumer protection cases.
Their very presence signaled the importance of the litigation to both sides, on both a financial and public-relations grounds.
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