Four NFL concussion lawsuits being combined in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- At least four lawsuits blaming the NFL for concussion-related dementia and brain disease will be consolidated in Philadelphia, and more could follow.

A U.S. judicial panel approved requests Tuesday by the NFL and plaintiffs lawyers to try similar cases before Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.

The lawsuits represent more than 300 retired players or spouses, including two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon.

"(This) allows Judge Brody to now bring everybody together and put this in an organized environment where all the legal issues and the medical issues and the scientific issues can all be decided in one place," said lawyer Larry Coben of Philadelphia, who filed the first lawsuit in August on behalf of McMahon and six others.

The NFL vows to vigorously defend the claims. Spokesman Brian McCarthy declined to comment Tuesday, but the league had supported the consolidation in Philadelphia for logistical purposes.

Brody will handle all pretrial issues, including potentially key rulings on what evidence can be used at trial, and whether a class can be certified for medical monitoring or other purposes. The cases might then return to the district where they were filed for trial, Coben said.

As many as a dozen similar NFL concussion lawsuits have been filed in New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida and Philadelphia. They, too, could end up before the same judge.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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