The National Football League won preliminary approval of a settlement worth at least $675 million resolving ex-players’ claims that officials failed to warn them about links between concussions and brain injuries.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia today concluded the NFL’s willingness to create an uncapped settlement fund to cover retired players’ medical costs from dementia and other neurological disorders tied to repeated concussions deserved initial approval. The judge set a Nov. 19 hearing to decide on final approval of the deal.
“The proposed class-action settlement should more quickly make resources and compensation available for these retired players,” Brody said in her ruling.
The preliminary approval of the accord comes after seven former players last week filed objections to the settlement. The objectors included Sean Considine, a strong safety who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens during his career.
More than 5,000 former football players sued the league over the past several years seeking damages for head injuries. The retirees accused the NFL of negligence and failing to properly warn players about the link between repeated traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries.
Brody rejected an earlier version of the settlement, citing concerns that it might have been insufficient to cover about 20,000 retired players over a 65-year term. She asked for more documentation, including economic analyses conducted by plaintiffs’ attorneys.
NFL officials agreed last month to lift a cap on cash awards to players for brain-related ailments to address Brody’s concerns.
The NFL will work with the players’ lawyers to implement the terms of the settlement as provided by the judge’s order, Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the league, said in an e-mailed statement.
Lawyers for retired players who sued the league over the concussion issues said today the deal has received “overwhelming support” from former members of the league.
“This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families,” Chris Seeger, one of the lawyers leading the concussion suits, said in an e-mailed statement. “We look forward to finalizing this agreement.”
The case is In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, 12-md-02323, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).