Ex-Players Argue NFL Moving the Goalposts on Requirements to Get Settlement Share

Sixteen retired NFL players urged a Pennsylvania federal court on Monday, November 13, 2017, to overturn a claims administrator’s changes to how claims are processed under a settlement agreement for brain injuries. The NFL reached the estimated $1 billion settlement in the concussion suit four years ago, and began accepting claims against the settlement eight months ago. Of the 1,400 players awarded damages from the league as part of the settlement, only 140 have gotten any sort of payout from the NFL.

The court decided on Nov. 2 that the players can’t interfere with the claims process in light of a Nov. 7 agreement between the parties requiring players to submit raw scores from neurocognitive tests, a requirement not spelled out in the initial agreement from four years ago. The players had argued to the court in August that the claims administer had altered the requirements for qualifying for a monetary award in the settlement agreement. The claims administrator reinterpreted “corroborated by documentary evidence” to mean “corroborated by documentary evidence that existed before the date of the qualifying diagnosis.” “The claims administrator, co-lead class counsel and counsel for the NFL parties cannot be allowed to make substance changes that materially alter claimants’ rights for the worse without proper notice to the class and approval by this court,” the retired players argued. The players want their issues addressed globally, rather than in individual appeals as the court had suggested and which the players say would be “prohibitive and burdensome.”

The NFL has officially denied that there have been any changes to the settlement agreement or the standards for claims to be approved. Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss, counsel for the players, said in a statement he believes the court was right to deny the motion.

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