After twice rejecting a concussion settlement between the National Football League (NFL) and thousands of its former players, a judge recently approved a package that could be worth nearly $1 billion. This settlement looks to be a turning point for both the NFL and the many players affected by life-altering injuries.
The New York Times reports that the settlement will offer payment of up to $5 million to any player who has developed one of just a few neurological disorders. It also mandates medical monitoring for any player that has received a concussion, and $10 million devoted to educating coaches and teams on the dangers, signs, and treatments of concussions.
Furthermore, the NFL tried to mandate that all retired players, including those who did not join in the lawsuit against the NFL, be covered by the settlement as well, as a way to prevent them from submitting future lawsuits. However, several of those players chose not to take the settlement so that they could continue fighting their personal claims against the NFL.
A Long Time Coming
The suit has dragged on for several years with hundreds of claims brought against the NFL and has been backed by more than 5,000 retired NFL players and their families. The court reached an initial decision in August 2013, but the acting judge, Anita B. Brody, asked the two appealing sides to revise their agreements in favor of a higher cap on funding for the injured.
The claims revolved around mishandled concussions, which have led to a number of degenerative brain diseases and other damages, which have debilitated and even killed many players.
One of the first players to file the lawsuit was Kevin Turner, who played eight seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. He developed ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), which doctors believe was accelerated by a head injury during his time as a player. His input has been monumental for the case. When the settlement was reached, he told the New York Times:
“What matters now is time, and many retired players do not have much left. I hope this settlement is implemented without delay so that we can finally start helping those in need.”
Reviews for the settlement are mixed. Many are calling it the most important deal in the history of the NFL, while others are accusing it of being unfair or not good enough.
Many have reported their discontent with the amount of money allotted for the settlement. They argue that the amount of diseases covered by the money is so small that too many players won’t receive any funding at all.
They also suggest that the settlement is needed to address more cases than were addressed in the original case. Because they aren’t receiving the funds from the NFL, many of these players are being forced to participate in litigate crowdfunding, which is a way to raise money through crowdfunding for legal causes on websites like Nova Legal Funding.
However, Brody seems to be happy with her decision. She explained in her 132-page ruling that the settlement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate,” and that the deal may be appealed and reach a higher court.
One of the lead plaintiffs, Christopher Seeger, hopes that it won’t reach a higher court, however. He agrees with Turner in that many of the players need the money as soon as possible, and an appeal will only drag out the settlement disbursement longer.
Sports Illustrated reports that on May 14, a former NFL player and his wife filed an appeal to the case. If it’s accepted, it could delay the settlement for years.
[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0770437567]