10:25am PT by Eriq Gardner
NFL Revises Concussion Settlement: No Cap on Head Injury Fund
The National Football League has used another off-season to attempt to limit the impact of concussion litigation from former players. On Wednesday, a deal was announced to revise a settlement made last year with some 5,000 ex-players who allege that the league concealed the risks of head injuries.
In January, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody rejected a proposed $765 million settlement that included most of the money going to compensate the victims of cognitive injuries, with the rest headed for research and class notices. The federal judge noted at the time that a fund set up might "lack the necessary funds" to deliver what was needed to those who qualified for payments.
Now, attorneys for the plaintiffs say a new settlement has been forged with its most distinguishing feature being no cap on payments.
"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," says 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."
The deal, which will put money in a trust that will make payouts for decades and give the NFL the right to audit any claims, will still need the judge's approval.
The announcement of the settlement comes about 10 months after the parties first attempted to resolve the litigation that has also been a distraction for broadcasters that have paid billions of dollars for rights to telecast football games.
However, per the terms of the agreement, the plaintiffs will still be free to pursue claims against amateur leagues like the NCAA.