Judge Approves NFL Concussion Settlement

Share:
A Seattle Seahawks helmet on the field during warms up before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Seahawks won the game 43-8. (AP Photo/Perry Knotts)

Photo: A Seattle Seahawks helmet on the field during warms up before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Perry Knotts)

July 7, 2014

A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to a settlement between the NFL and roughly 4,500 former players who are suing the league for allegedly concealing the long-term health risks of concussions.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody clears the way for a vote on the proposed settlement by the league’s roughly 18,000 retired players and their beneficiaries.

“A class action settlement that offers prompt relief is superior to the likely alternative — years of expensive, difficult and uncertain litigation with no assurance of recovery, while retired players’ physical and mental conditions continue to deteriorate,” Brody wrote.

Judge Brody’s decision comes just 10 days after the NFL agreed to remove a cap on any damages it will pay as part of the settlement. In January, she rejected an original settlement of $765 million, saying she did not believe that the $675 million set aside for damages would be enough to compensate every player who might one day require aid.

The agreement allows for payments as high as $5 million for league veterans diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease; as much as $4 million for a death involving traumatic brain injury; and as much as $3 million for players suffering from dementia. It includes $75 million for baseline medical exams for retired players and $10 million for concussion research and education, but it does not require the NFL to admit that it hid any information from players about the dangers of repeated hits to the head.

“This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families — from those who suffer with neurocognitive illnesses today, to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future,” plaintiffs’ attorneys Sol Weiss and Christopher Seeger said in a statement.

Recently, several players have voiced reservations about the agreement. Last week, a group of seven retired players filed a motion in federal court in Philadelphia, urging Brody to reject the settlement. The players called the agreement a “lousy deal” for players whose symptoms do not qualify them for compensation.

Still, with the cap on damages now removed, many legal experts predict the settlement will win approval from a majority of the league’s retired players. Players will have until October to decider whether to opt out or object to the deal. A hearing on the final settlement is scheduled for November.


Jason M. Breslow

Jason M. Breslow, Former Digital Editor

Twitter:

@jbrezlow

More Stories

Kherson After Liberation: Co-producer of ‘Putin’s Attack on Ukraine’ Documentary Describes Visit
A Ukrainian filmmaker and journalist who was on one of the first trains traveling to the newly liberated city talks to FRONTLINE about the damage he saw in Kherson after eight months of Russian occupation.
November 29, 2022
As Donald Trump Announces His 2024 Run, a Look Back at His Presidency and Impact
FRONTLINE has built a unique public record, in documentary format, of the former president’s impact on American life, politics and democracy — and his previous battles with a special counsel and the Department of Justice.
November 16, 2022
How American Politics Reached This Fraught Moment: 12 Documentaries to Watch Ahead of the Midterms
As a divided America prepares to vote and fears of political violence continue, these FRONTLINE documentaries show how U.S. politics reached this moment.
November 4, 2022
How Russian Soldiers Ran a "Cleansing" Operation in Bucha
"I’ve already killed so many civilians,” a Russian soldier told his wife from Bucha, Ukraine. The Associated Press and FRONTLINE obtained hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and intercepts of audio calls by Russian soldiers that show for the first time what a Russian "cleansing" operation looked like.
November 3, 2022