NFL Settles Class-Action Concussion Lawsuit Filed By Former Players
By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 29, 2013 6:00PM
Jeff Immelt (L), chairman and CEO of General Electric and Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), are seen at a news conference introduce an initiative and research program to study concussions in an effort to improve the safety of professional football players, March 11, 2013 New York City. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
The National Football League settled the class-action lawsuit filed against it by more than 4,500 former players alleging the league hid the long-term effects of head trauma suffered during their playing careers.
Most of the $765 million settlement—$675 million—will go to the players on a case-by-case basis. That averages to around $150,000 per person, although not every player will receive that amount. Another $75 million will be earmarked for medical research and the remaining money for research. The settlement will be paid out in installments over a 20-year period with half of the money coming in the first three years. Considering the NFL earns $9 billion annually, this settlement is the equivalent of pissing on a hot skillet.
The settlement likely means the league may never have to disclose internal communications about what it knew about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and other brain injuries suffered by players. Players lawyer David Frederick accused the league of concealing studies linking concussions to neurological problems for decades. Other attorneys have been seeking more information about the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which was led for more than a decade by a rheumatologist.
The settlement also means the NFL will never have to admit to any liability.
"This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players. Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it. We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation. This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we’ve made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players."
The plaintiffs included 10 Football Hall of Fame players including Dallas Cowboys legend Tony Dorsett. The family of San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, Chicago Bears Super Bowl winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of former Bear Dave Duerson, who killed himself in 2011. The lawsuits were consolidated in a Philadelphia federal court in July 2012 and the two sides were ordered to mediate a settlement on the lawsuit before Sept. 3.
Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody must still approve the deal.
ESPN last week pulled out of a film project looking into the effects of long-term brain trauma in former NFL players after the league complained.