Judge Says NFL Concussion Settlement Needs Changes

On Monday, February 2, Judge Anita Brody of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the proposed class action settlement agreement reached between the NFL and thousands of former NFL players suing the league for concussion related injuries.

The lawsuit alleges that the NFL intentionally downplayed the risks of concussion-related injuries & their long-term effects on cognitive decline.  In august of 2013, the NFL and over 4,500 players reached a settlement amounting to $765 million.  The settlement has been a point of contention over the last year and a half, and is, according to Judge Brody, almost ready for acceptance.

The judge asked both sides to change a few aspects of the deal in her order on Monday.  There are five particular ways she wants the settlement expanded in order to enhance the deal’s fairness and adequacy.  Currently, the deal will pay up to $5 million to players found to have the severest of neurological conditions.  Judge Brody wants the settlement expanded to address several complaints raised at November’s fairness hearing.

The changes requested include allowing players credit for years playing in auxiliary leagues, such as NFL Europe, which were not counted in the original settlement when calculating the amount a player is entitled to.  Additionally, the NFL is to remove the $75 million cap for its baseline assessment program.  Most significantly, the order demands that families of players who died showing CTE can file claims if the diagnosis is made by the date of the deal’s final approval as opposed to the prior acceptance date, July 6.  The parties have until February 13 to submit a new settlement agreement taking into account the judge’s  changes.

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