Ex-NFL Players Who Previously Opted Out of NFL Concussion Settlement Call Audible and Attempt to Rejoin Settlement

Four former players have attempted to rejoin the league’s potential $1 billion concussion settlement after they previously opted-out to challenge the settlement in the federal courts. Ralph Williams, Lex Hilliard, Brian Schaefering, and Charles Mincy were part of a group of more than two-hundred ex-NFL players who opted out of the settlement in November, 2014. The Third Circuit affirmed the settlement on April 18, 2016, despite arguments from the players that the deal should leave open the possibility that a test could be developed to diagnose CTE in living players, as CTE is currently only diagnosed posthumously. The Supreme Court announced it would not hear an appeal to the decision on December 12, 2016.

The four players request to rejoin the litigation came after the Supreme Court’s decision to deny the players’ challenge to the settlement. The NFL allowed the players to rejoin as their request to rejoin came prior to the commencement of the opt-in litigation. Although the NFL has not challenged the players’ ability to rejoin the litigation, only Mincy’s request has been approved by U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody.

The Supreme Court’s denial of review means the funds from the settlement can start to be distributed in March to the nearly 11,000 former NFL players who have already pre-registered for the benefits. The settlement will set-up a bottomless fund over a 65-year period, and players are eligible for compensation up to $5 million. Compensation covers diagnoses for degenerative brain-diseases such as ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Relatives of former players who died with CTE will be compensated by the funds as well.

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