The NFL and representatives of large group of retired players have come to an agreement on a revised settlement for benefits to be paid out to retired players who suffer from dementia and other diseases related to head trauma suffering during their careers.
The new settlement now will entitle players to a "monetary award fund [that] will not be capped at any specified amount." This comes after presiding Judge Antia Brody ruled last August that the NFL's previous concussion settlement fund of $765 million ($675M of which previously had been earmarked to go directly to the players) for retired players was unsuitable to sustain because she doubted it could last for the life of the 65-year agreement.
Once the program is established, according to an NFL release, "funds will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition."
The league and representatives for the group of more than 5,000 retired players have worked closely over the past six months with Judge Brody and the Court’s special master, Perry Golkin, in order to come to an agreement.
id="yui_3_16_0_1_1403613048952_423450">“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,” said 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.”
“Today’s agreement reaffirms the NFL’s commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation. We are eager to move forward with the process of court approval and implementation of the settlement,” said NFL Senior Vice President Anastasia Danias.
As with the previous settlement terms, this agreement also will provide many benefits for the retired players who qualify. There will be a separate fund that offers them a comprehensive medical exam and follow-up benefits, plus an injury compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS. In cases of retired players' deaths, family members are eligible to apply for benefits.
After 10 years of the agreement, both sides will assess the situation and the number of players they must take care of. After a meeting with each of their actuaries, the NFL then will place money into a trust fund that will reportedly last the remainder of the agreement over the ensuing 55 years.
This likely will take some pressure off the league and commissioner Roger Goodell, who initially received praise for the agreement when it was first announced, but that quickly turned to some scorn when many felt the players settled on a deal too quickly and that the money might run out at some point. Brody agreed and rejected the deal, which led to this settlement action.
Even though the two sides have come to the agreement, a final approval hearing likely won't occur until later this year. If approved, the altered agreement will be sent to more than 18,000 retired players and their beneficiaries, who then can then approve it, object or opt out of the deal. No players or their families would be paid until the appeal process has concluded.
The plaintiffs' lawyers also stand to gain from the deal, as they have requested $112 million in legal fees, per the New York Times.
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