NFL Concussion Suit: Further Changes to Settlement Agreement

Both the plaintiffs and the NFL amended the tentative settlement plan in the NFL concussion suit again in response to U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody.

Early in February, Judge Brody issued an order that contained recommendations to “enhance the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy” of the proposed settlement agreement. The parties had until Friday to address her five concerns.

First, Judge Brody urged to expand the provision that only counted NFL playing seasons in calculating eligibility of players. The revised agreement credits a half-season for each season played in Europe as well.

The previous plan included $75 million for neurological testing, monitoring, counseling and treatment. Reflecting the judge’s concern for funding limitations, however, the amended plan now requires the NFL to pay for what is “necessary” if $75 million becomes insufficient.

Judge Brody was also concerned with the time restrictions on the eligibility for the death related to CTE. In the amended plan, the parties agreed to provide a 270-day grace period for a CTE-related death that occurs between July 7, 2014 when the judge granted preliminary approval and the date of final approval.

Addressing the judge’s concern about ex-players’ financial burden if they appeal awards, the revised agreement now contains a “hardship provision” that provides ex-players upon request a waiver of the $1,000 fee to file an appeal.

Further, as Judge Brody recommended, the plan now contains a “limited exemption . . . in the event of unavailability” of records. The exemption will benefit retirees who cannot provide relevant records to prove their eligibility due to reasons beyond their control.

As the revisions addressed all five concerns raised by Judge Brody, her final approval is expected to come soon.

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