NFL & Former Players Reach Settlement Again; Judge Approves

On Wednesday, April 22, Federal Judge Anita Brody approved what may become the long-awaited final settlement between the massive class of ex-NFL players and the NFL in their concussion litigation.

The lawsuit, an aggregation of hundreds of ex-players’ complaints, began three and a half years ago claiming the NFL failed to address and warn of the dangers of head trauma.  Former players and their families suffering from life with debilitating neurological damage sought medical help from the NFL.  After a few rejections of proposed settlements, this most recent iteration may finally provide they receive the attention they need.  It also provides the NFL with what it wanted, no admission of guilt.

The approved settlement will span 65 years and will likely cost the NFL at least $900 million to compensate retired players and deceased players’ families that have been diagnosed with neurological disorders.  The settlement will provide compensation of up to $5 million to players with ALS, $4 million for CTE, and various other amounts for lesser diseases.  Players will not need to show any causal link between their injury and their NFL career to obtain benefits.  The settlement also provides fudning for programs monitoring and diagnosing brain injury as well as counseling for ex-players.  The NFL will also be responsible for the ex-players’ attorneys’ fees.

This settlement proves to be a significant increase in benefit to the players from the previous proposal, and the former players appear happy with it.  Only around 200 ex-players have chosen to opt out and continue their own suits against the NFL.  Though the settlement applies only to retired players, the benefits of this litigation are wide and far reaching.  Similar suits have been brought in many other sports leagues including the NCAA and NHL.  As a result of the litigation, the NFL has taken a new approach to how it deals with the potential for concussion and brain injury.  New preventative measures have been put in place to protect current and future players including rules against hits to the head, penalties, athletic training staff requirements, and neurological consultant requirements.

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