Football fans and those of us with heightened interests in traumatic brain injuries have been anxiously waiting for the resolution in the concussion lawsuits filed against the NFL. After a settlement in which the league would pay $765 million was agreed to in August of 2013, it seemed the issue was close to a conclusion. But, in January Judge Anita B. Brody rejected the proposal citing concerns that there would be enough money to cover all the claims.
Now, a new agreement has been reached that may signal the final conclusion of the lawsuits filed by roughly 5,000 retired players accusing the league of hiding the dangers of concussions.
In the new settlement, the NFL has agreed to an open-ended commitment to pay cash awards to retirees who suffer from dementia and other diseases linked to repeated head impacts, according to documents filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
It seems likely that Judge Brody would agree to the new settlement, assuming there is ample explanation of how the league would determine the amount to pay to individual players. If it is approved, it will then be sent to all 18,000 retired players and their beneficiaries, who can then individually approve the settlement, object, or opt out. Unfortunately, that means that despite this being the potential last leg of the legal agreement, it could still be months until the issue case is entirely resolved.
Anastasia Danias, a senior vice president and the chief litigation officer of the NFL released a statement saying, “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 delay, expense, and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation.
In a statement issued by the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss stated, “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 recourse.”