NFL agrees to remove cap on concussion damages in retirees’ settlement


(Gene J. Puskar / AP)

The NFL and about 5,000 retired players have reached agreement on a revised settlement in the NFL concussion litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The new agreement features no monetary limit, the league announced, with an open-ended commitment to pay former players who suffer from dementia and other qualifying health issues related to repeated hits to the head. The sides had agreed to a $765 million settlement last august, but that was rejected in January by Judge Anita B. Brody, who expressed doubts that the figure was sufficient to cover claims over the 65-year span of the settlement.

The NFL announced that:

Consistent with the settlement announced last year, the revised agreement provides a wide range of benefits to retired NFL players and their families, including a separate fund to offer all eligible retirees a comprehensive medical exam and follow-up benefits, and an injury compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS.  Where the retiree is deceased or unable to pursue his claim, a family member may do so on his behalf.   While actuarial estimates from both parties supported the $765 million settlement that was announced in August, this new agreement will ensure funds are available to any eligible retired player who develops a compensable injury.

“This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future,” said co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss. “This settlement guarantees that these benefits will be there if needed, and does so without years of litigation that may have left many retired players without any recourse.”

Under terms of the agreement, the NFL will allocate $10 million for increasing concussion prevention awareness, as well as pay the costs of providing notice to the class and for administration of the settlement. The settlement requires the approval of the judge and, if granted, a final approval hearing would likely be held later this year.

Although the settlement is unlimited, there has to be some form of control and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reports that the NFL received “additional measures to prevent fraudulent claims” in the proposed settlement.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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