On Tuesday, a proposed $765 million settlement between the National Football League and nearly 5,000 retired players suing over the effects of concussions was rejected by a federal judge, who expressed concern that the amount of money would not be enough to compensate the nearly 20,000 retired players that could potentially qualify.
Both sides were surprised that the settlement was rejected, an uncommon move when an agreement has already been reached. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody said she was concerned that not all the retired players qualified to receive some of the funds would actually be paid:
Unfortunately, no such analyses were provided to me in support of the plaintiffs' motion. In the absence of additional supporting evidence, I have concerns about the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the settlement.
Athletes contend that the NFL intentionally hid the true dangers of playing the game by minimizing the concussion risks associated with it. The league didn't admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement, but agreed to allot money based upon certain medical conditions: Those with Lou Gehrig's disease would receive $5 million, those with brain disease stemming from head trauma would receive $4 million and those with dementia $3 million. Half of the money would be paid in the first three years, with the remainder over the next 17.
In a statement, attorneys for the plaintiffs called the settlement "extraordinary" and said they want to finalize it soon:
We are confident that the settlement will be approved after the Court conducts its due diligence on the fairness and adequacy of the proposed agreement. Analysis from economists, actuaries and medical experts will confirm that the programs established by the settlement will be sufficiently funded to meet their obligations for all eligible retired players. We look forward to working with the Court and Special Master to address their concerns, as they rightfully ensure all class members are protected.
The proposed settlement was reached last August, but since then, more than 70 additional players have filed concussion lawsuits. Other retired players could have opted out of the $765 million deal and sued independently, meaning the wave of concussion suits could be never ending.
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