A U.S. District Court judge has denied initial approval of the landmark $760 million concussion settlement between the NFL and many of its former players.
Judge Anita Brody expressed concern about the sufficiency of the funds to cover, or at least address, the medical expenses of the 4,500 players involved in the suit.
“I am primarily concerned that not all Retired NFL Football Players who ultimately receive a Qualifying Diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid,” Brody wrote in an order denying the settlement as it now stands. ”I am not yet satisfied that the Settlement ‘has no obvious deficiencies, grants no preferential treatment to segments of the class, and falls within the range of possible approval.’”
Brody denied the settlement without prejudice.
"Plaintiffs’ counsel 'believe' that the aggregate sum is sufficient ... unfortunately, no such analyses were provided to me," Brody wrote. "In the absence of additional supporting evidence, I have concerns about the fairness, and adequacy of the Settlement."
This action does not throw out the entire settlement, but instead places demands on attorneys to provide more substantive and specific documentation. Brody is seeking additional information on both specific payout plans and determination of need.
“The Settlement contemplates a $675 million Monetary Award Fund with a 65-year lifespan for a Settlement Class of approximately 20,000 people,” Brody noted. The settlement provides for awards under the settlement of up to $3.5 million for those with a "qualifying diagnosis" of Parkinson's Disease, and up to $5 million for ALS.
”Even if only 10 percent of Retired NFL Football Players eventually receive a Qualifying Diagnosis," Brody wrote, "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 NFL has not admitted fault in the settlement, but has instituted a wide range of equipment modifications, safety initiatives and rules changes designed to protect players.