NFL Settles Concussion Litigation Battle
Nicholas Guarino, Arther Law’s Industry Insider
Exactly a week before the start of the 2013 season, the National Football League has settled a claim with over 4,500 retired players for nearly a billion dollars. The ex-players and their families brought the claim against the NFL for concealing harmful information regarding the long-term effects of concussions on the brain. The League agreed to settle the suit for a total of $765 million dollars, to be divided amongst the ex-players or their families. The amount will be used to provide medical benefits, injury compensation, and to fund medical research.
Judge Layne Phillips, the court-appointed mediator, announced the settlement that these ex-players hope will compensate them for the damage suffered during their careers. “There is no question that this settlement will provide benefits much sooner, and at much less cost, for many more retirees, than would have been achieved through extended litigation.”
The NFL has 20 years to pay the amount in full, but at least half of the settlement must be paid within the first three years. Of the $765 million provided in the settlement, $75 million is allotted for basic medical exams for the ex-players, $675 million to compensate those players and families of those who have suffered cognitive injuries. Further, $10 million is dedicated to provide funding for medical research that will, hopefully, provide new means to prevent these types of brain injuries. “This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players.” noted NFL Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash.
Not all are so hopeful that the settlement and additional rule changes will sufficiently protect current and future players. Even with recent changes, the laws of physics still apply. Football focuses on players hitting and tackling one another. Those players are constantly getting bigger, faster and stronger, resulting in bigger, faster and harder hits. If this trend continues, and there appears no sign of it slowing, more concussions and brain damage seem inevitable.
Despite the settlement’s shortfalls, former players and their families are thankful for the financial support. “The benefits in this agreement will make a difference not only for me and my family, but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future,” said Kevin Turner, a former NFL running back diagnosed with ALS. For most, some support is better than none.