Earlier this year, a judge approved a $1 billion settlement on behalf of former professional football players against the National Football League. After being asked to reconsider the large award in this case, courts earlier this year upheld the award. According to an article in USA Today, the United States Supreme Court has now received a second petition filed by other former players asking them to reconsider the settlement amount and reject the current sum based on how the verdict treats current brain injuries versus potential future brain injuries.
The New Petition’s Claim
The original ruling creates a fund from which injured players suffering from the consequences of repeated traumatic brain injuries can collect damages for medical treatment and other expenses related to such injuries, primarily the occurrence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”). CTE is a condition that results from repeated traumatic brain injuries that can cause erratic behavior and other severe issues related to the brain. CTE cannot be diagnosed until after a person has died because it involves examining the brain for certain telltale signs of CTE, like protein deposits and other characteristics identifiable only after death. In cases where a player is deceased, their family can collect damages in a specified amount to help compensate for injuries related to traumatic brain injuries that result in CTE. The original settlement has a cut-off date for claims related to CTE of April 2015, meaning the fund created by the settlement will only pay out to those affected by injuries related to CTE prior to that date. While the fund created will continue to pay out for victims suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and dementia – all also potential consequences of repeated traumatic brain injuries – it will not cover future instances of CTE. Former players have attempted to point out in their petition that this effectively bars similarly situated plaintiffs from benefiting from the settlement if they were found to have developed CTE after a death occurring after the cut-off date.