NFL Concussion Suit Cap Lifted: What It Means and What’s Next
The NFL and the attorneys representing 4,500 retired players announced a revised settlement agreement in the NFL concussion litigation, lifting restrictions on monies awarded to plaintiffs who demonstrate need. This comes after a federal judge rejected the previous settlement of $765 million.
How we got here
Last August, the league and former players agreed to a $765 million settlement on a lawsuit alleging that the NFL knew about the dangers and long-term effects of concussions and covered them up.
In January federal judge Anita B. Brody rejected the proposal due to insufficient funding over the life-span of the 65-year settlement.
Now, with a new agreement in place and no cap on funds for those in need, former players who suffer from documented brain impairment as a result of injuries sustained playing football will have access to it.
The agreement was reached on Wednesday after six months of revisions that included all 32 owners. It is still subject to approval by Brody and a special master assigned by the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Perry Golkin.
The two will review the information in the next several weeks. If granted preliminary approval, copies will be sent to all NFL retirees, who will vote on whether to accept or reject the settlement, a process that is expected to take several months.
A final approval hearing is expected to come later this year.
How it works
According to the new agreement, cash awards will be distributed based on severity of the condition and the age of diagnosis. Players with five or more accrued seasons will also generally receive more than players with less time.
“Today’s agreement reaffirms the NFL’s commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation. We are eager to move forward with the process of court approval and implementation of the settlement,” said NFL Senior Vice President Anastasia Danias in a statement.
“This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future,” co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss said in a statement.“This settlement guarantees that these benefits will be there if needed, and does so without years of litigation that may have left many retired players without any recourse.”
The agreement still adopts parameters set forth in the previous settlement, including $75 million allocated for baseline testing and $10 million for concussion research and education.
There have also been some changes though, including removing provisions that would have prevented players from suing the NCAA, high school and youth football organizations.
The new agreement also features improved measures to prevent retired players from filing false claims, improving diagnostic standards and creating a network of approved doctors.