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Federal Judge Rejects $765 Million Settlement Agreement Between The NFL & Retired Injured Football Players Over Head Injuries

Posted on Feb 05, 2014

We have been closely following the lawsuit filed by former NFL players against the NFL over permanent head injuries suffered by the players.  The players alleged that the NFL knew about the links between football-related head trauma and permanent brain injuries, but failed to take appropriate measures.  See NFL Faces Lawsuit Related to Concussions and Permanent Brain Injuries From Former Football Players

In August of 2013, the NFL and the players agreed to settle the lawsuit for $765 million and submitted the proposed agreement to federal judge, Anita Brody, for approval.  Per the agreement, $75 million is set aside to devote to baseline medical exams for any other former players who are likely to be eligible for the settlement.  The bulk of the settlement is to compensate players for their injuries.  The amount received by each player is dependent on the types of injuries suffered.  Ex-players with Alzheimer’s disease would be capped at $5 million; those with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) would be capped at $4 million; and those with dementia would be capped at $3 million.

Approximately 4,500 former players are plaintiffs in the consolidated lawsuit, and there about 20,000 retired football players who are not part of the lawsuit.

Earlier last month, Judge Brody declined to approve the proposed $765 million settlement, ruling that the settlement agreement may not go far enough to cover every player who may need aid, i.e., the other retired players who are not part of the lawsuit.  Source: www.pbs.org (Judge Rejects $765 Million NFL Concussion Settlement)

Judge Brody stated in her decision, “I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis, or their related claimants, will be paid.”

Judge Brody has asked both sides to provide documentation and financial analysis showing that the proposed settlement agreement will be large enough to cover all eligible parties.  If Judge Brody ultimately approves the agreement, players will have a 60-day window to decide whether or not to opt in.

This delay has added to the frustrations of the former players and their families.  The players and their families are not necessarily frustrated with Judge Brody’s decision, but are frustrated instead with the fact that they are not part of the negotiations with the NFL.  Only the lead plaintiff’s counsel is involved in negotiating the settlement agreement, and other plaintiffs’ attorneys are not involved in the process.  Many plaintiffs and their families appreciate that Judge Brody’s decision is intended to make sure that the settlement will cover all eligible retired football players.  However, many players may also opt out of the agreement due to this same concern. 

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