$50M Settlement Approved in NFL Retirees’ Publicity Rights Suit
A Minnesota federal judge approved a $50 million settlement in a case over the publicity rights of more than 25,000 NFL retirees. Calling it a “historic settlement,” the judge stated it is “very creative and it’s very exciting to see this opportunity being provided to retired players for the first time.”
Despite the objection of 19 players, on November 1, 2013, the judge granted final approval of the settlement. The judge noted that “only one-tenth of one percent of the class objected and less than 10 percent requested to opt out.” He stated, “the objections raised here are without merit. Nearly all of the objections boil down to what is, in the court’s view, the objector’s very mistaken belief that they could reap significant financial benefits from continuing the case.”
A large majority of the class members believe that the settlement will benefit the former players. According to the settlement terms, over an 8 year period, $42 million will go into a trust administered by an approved group of retirees. The trust will help former players with issues like medical costs, housing, and career changes. Additionally, the settlement establishes the new licensing agency to ensure that retirees will be compensated for the use of their identities. The remaining $8 million will pay other associated costs such as the licensing agency’s startup costs and legal fees.
However, the agreement specifies that the NFL can deduct up to $13.5 million from the fund to pay for expenses related to opt-out claims. The judge feels the more than 2,000 opt-out lawsuits’ chances of success are “slim at best.”
The final approval ends the case for nearly 23,000 retirees. According to the judge, all class members will benefit, “not just those who are well-known or whose publicity rights are the most valuable.