U.S. District Judge, Anita B. Brody, wants more calculations to ensure just awards of damages for ex-NFL players in the settlement of the well-publicized consolidated concussion cases. Denying a motion to approve the $765M settlement on Tuesday, Brody, “noted that the class of approximately 20,000[i] could overwhelm the [settlement] fund, even if only 10 percent of its members [with cognitive injuries] file claims against the $675 million set aside to pay claims, working out to $337,500 per player,” as reported by Fox News.[ii] To receive part of the special injury compensation fund the former players must present medical evidence of their cognitive injury.
Judges in cases like this must ensure that a settlement amount is adequate and fair?
Settlement amounts are commonly disputed in litigation involving multiple defendants and the variety of damages they sustain. In this case the retired players have a variety of short and long-term physical and cognitive injuries. Some are deceased former players whose families will receive part of the settlement as authorized representatives. The settlement proceeds will be used to cover medical benefits for injured players, to fund medical and safety research, and for the expenses of litigation, including attorneys’ fees.
Judge Brody said in the court opinion, “in the absence of additional supporting evidence, I have concerns about the fairness and adequacy of the settlement.” The lawsuit in this case includes more than 4,500 retired NFL players who sued the league for traumatic brain and head injuries sustained during their employment[iii]. The exact amount of injured players qualified to take from the special $675M fund is unknown, so it is difficult to know if that fund will be adequate and fair.
Medical experts, economists and actuaries are expected to provide additional reasonable and necessary information the judge may review to evaluate if the agreed settlement will be enough to compensate the injured and families of deceased former players.
Many people think the NFL is getting off lightly given that the settlement funds are to be paid over a period of 20 years.
The link above is to an ESPN video discussing reactions to Judge Brody’s decision. Tia McNeill, former wife of retired NFL player, Fred McNeill[iv], states that she is happy with the ruling because it allows another look at the qualifying factors for eligibility to receive the settlement. Chicago attorney, Thomas Demetrio, agrees that more evidence must be seen to justify that the settlement will satisfy the needs of the injured players over the next many years.
The Law Offices of Michael V. Favia represents injured people, including athletes. Michael V. Favia is an advisory board member and is active with the Sports Legacy Institute and its work in increasing awareness of and education to increase safety and prevent traumatic brain injuries among athletes. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a meeting with an attorney at your convenience. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, please visit the firm’s website and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.
[i] Terms of the settlement include an award of damages to any retired NFL player as of the date the settlement is accepted. See CBS Sports: NFL, former players reach settlement in concussion lawsuit. By Ryan Wilson, Aug. 29,2013.
[ii] Fox News: Ex-NFL players eye $765M settlement, even if they haven’t signed on. By Joshua Rhett Miller, Jan. 16, 2014.
[iii] CBS Sports: Judge rejects initial $765M NFL concussion lawsuit settlement. By Will Brinson, Jan. 14, 2014.