The National Football League settled a class action lawsuit over concussion-related issues for $675 million in compensatory claims in August 2013. Players originally wanted $2 billion in the case. However, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody questioned whether the settlement would be enough to pay all potential claims.
So what’s the end result for the NFL and former players?
On July 7, Judge Brody agreed to an NFL proposal to remove the previous settlement’s cap on damages. The settlement is expected to cover former players who experience neurological problems as a result of play, and the settlement will last for at least 65 years.
“A class action settlement that offers prompt relief is superior to the likely alternative -- years of expensive, difficult, and uncertain litigation, with no assurance of recovery, while retired players' physical and mental conditions continue to deteriorate,” said Judge Brody in approving the altered settlement.
For the plaintiffs, this removal represents a major victory, both for the former players named in the suit and future retirees. “This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families -- from those who suffer with neuro-cognitive illnesses today, to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future,” plaintiffs' attorneys Sol Weiss and Christopher Seeger said in a statement.
The NFL, though, does receive some benefit from paying the extra sum. In addition to the good public relations that comes from the move, the league also protects against the possibility of future lawsuits while this settlement is still in effect. Also, although the cap is now off, the league still maintains its formula for payouts that considers an individual’s age and illness. Both sides say that, even with no cap, the NFL will likely not have to pay much more than $675 million, according to ESPN.
The league said in a statement through NFL senior vice president Anastasia Danias that it was “grateful to Judge Brody for her guidance and her thoughtful analysis of the issues as reflected in the comprehensive opinion she issued today.”