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NFL Update – Judge Says $765M Settlement Is Not Enough

We have been following the NFL concussion class action closely, and recently, the NFL and approximately 4,800 former players agreed to a $765 million settlement. This settlement needs the approval of the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody. However, on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, Judge Brody said that $765 million might not be enough to compensate the players.

According to Judge Brody, who wrote an opinion for the Philadelphia federal court, “I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis, or their related claimants, will be paid.”

Judge Brody continued, “Even if only 10 percent of retired NFL football players eventually receive a qualifying diagnosis, it is difficult to see how the monetary award fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants at these significant award levels.”

The $765 million settlement as-is would provide individual players as much as $5 million for neurological issues and injuries. However, Judge Brody is concerned that $765 million would not cover enough players or provide enough money individually to fully cover medical costs and compensate players for their injuries. In addition, Judge Brody is concerned that the rules outlined in the settlement are too restrictive on which players are eligible.

Judge Brody, in her opinion, requested more financial details regarding the payout plan. According to the judge’s calculations, the payout plan could have been extended to cover up to 20,000 players for up to 65 years as more may come forward with complaints and injuries. Players with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) could receive up to $5 million, those with death involving a traumatic brain injury could receive $4 million, and those with dementia could receive $3 million. However, if the $765 million were divided among the 20,000 players equally, each player would receive only $38,000.

Players and lawyers representing the league agreed to the payout and believe it is just. They plan on providing the requested additional financial information to prove the deal is fair.

According to a statement provided by Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, attorneys for the players, “We are confident that the settlement will be approved after the Court conducts its due diligence on the fairness and adequacy of the proposed agreement. Analysis from economists, actuaries and medical experts will confirm that the programs established by the settlement will be sufficiently funded to meet their obligations for all eligible retired players.”

The league’s spokesman Brian McCarthy echoed this sentiment and plans to provide the court with more information to demonstrate that the settlement is fair.

Retired players filed the class action lawsuit in 2012. The lawsuit alleged that the NFL hid the risks and dangers of traumatic brain injuries. Recent years have seen increased headlines regarding brain injuries of famous pro football players, as well as the suicides of players. Medical research has shown that the types of hits suffered by the players can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, aggression, and dementia.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or other brain injury due to the negligence of another, please contact Levin & Perconti today.

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Can a Single Football Season Cause Brain Damage?
New Book Argues Years of NFL Stalling on Brain Injuries