On August 29th attorneys for the parties to the concussion litigation against the NFL announced a proposed settlement of the litigation that had been brought by approximately 4500 former players. The proposed settlement calls for the NFL to pay approximately $765 million to be used in several ways. First and foremost, former players will be provided with neurological baseline testing and evaluation plus any necessary treatment. Those that are suffering severe symptoms such as Alzheimers, ALS, Parkinsons or who have severe neurological impairments are entitled to receive cash compensation from the fund. Further, any player who develops any of those symptoms over a time period that will likely cover the rest of their lives would also be entitled to cash compensation at that time. Additionally, the families of those former players who committed suicide and were later found to have suffered the effects of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) will also be compensated.
The proposed settlement appears to offer great relief to all former players and their families. By providing for benefits to be paid out over a period of more than 60 years, the players have the comfort that, if they develop a severe neurological problem in the future, they and their families will have a financial safety net that was not available to them before. All of the benefits in the settlement are in addition to those available in the NFL’s disability and other programs. Further, the players are not required to establish that their conditions were caused by playing in the NFL, which relieves them from a tremendous burden of proof.
The specific details of the proposed settlement will be announced in the coming weeks. Former players will have an opportunity to review the terms of the settlement and decide whether they want to participate or to pursue other avenues, including an individual claim against the league. As further details are disclosed, we will keep our clients informed of all developments.