Judge Rejects NFL Settlement in Concussion Lawsuits, Concerned It Is Not Enough for All Players
In August last year, the NFL offered a preliminary settlement amount of $765 million for retired football players suffering from a specific type of brain condition related to repeated concussions sustained while they played professional football.
However, on January 13th, US District Judge Anita B. Brody rejected the proposed settlement, because both the National Football League and the plaintiffs failed to provide evidence that the sum was enough to cover medical expenses for all affected retired players – a number which could reach 20,000 claimants.
“In light of my duty to protect the rights of all potential class members and the insufficiency of the current record, I will deny the Motion without prejudice,” Brody wrote in her 14-page opinion, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Although attorneys for the plaintiffs said they hired actuaries, medical experts, and economists to assess the number, and their experts approved, Judge Brody said she did not receive those approvals, or other proof, in that motion.
“In the absence of additional supporting evidence,” she wrote, “I have concerns about the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the settlement.”
“Even if only 10 percent of retired NFL football players eventually receive a qualifying diagnosis, it is difficult to see how the monetary award fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants at these significant award levels,” the decision said.
The original settlement proposal set aside $5 million for each former player whose history of concussions led to a specific brain trauma diagnosis. That number was based on the potential 20,000 retired professional football players who could receive that diagnosis. There were 4,500 plaintiffs in the lawsuit, alleging that the NFL did not take proper precautions to prevent or treat concussions or traumatic brain injury, and that has led to long-term disability and medical expenses for retired players.
A great deal of research in the last few years has been devoted to the study of the long-term effects of concussions on both children and adults, such as professional football players. Scientific medical research points to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy – which can cause behavioral changes, including aggression and depression, as well as dementia – as one outcome of repeated concussion injury.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs believe that Judge Brody can be convinced that the NFL’s settlement offer is a good one.
“We are confident that the settlement will be approved after the Court conducts its due diligence on the fairness and adequacy of the proposed agreement,” lead attorneys Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP and Sol Weiss of Anapol Schwartz said in a statement.
“Analysis from economists, actuaries and medical experts will confirm that the programs established by the settlement will be sufficiently funded to meet their obligations for all eligible retired players.”
The Traumatic Brain Injury Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to an automobile accident or a defective product, it is not too late to get help. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm offer free consultations to discuss the incident that led to traumatic brain injury and determine if you have a personal injury case. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.