Atlanta, April 22, 2015 – On April 22, 2015, Judge Anita Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a Final Order and Judgment in In re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL 2323, approving a Settlement between Retired NFL Players and the NFL. The Settlement was finalized after a lengthy process of negotiations before retired United States District Court Judge Layn Phillips. “This is a good day for former players,” said Pope McGlamry attorney Mike McGlamry, a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, “and was a long time coming.”
The Settlement has three primary components:
- An uncapped Monetary Award Fund (“MAF”) providing compensation to Retired Players diagnosed with any of the 6 Qualifying Diagnoses, which include Levels 1.5 and 2.0 Neurocognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, and Death with CTE for players who died by Final Approval, or April 22, 2015.
- A $75 million Baseline Assessment Program (“BAP”) providing Retired Players with free baseline assessment examinations of their neurological functioning. BAP funds will also be used to provide supplemental benefits such as counseling and prescription drug benefits to Retired Players diagnosed with Level 1.0 Neurocognitive Impairment.
- A $10 million Education Fund to educate Retired Players about the NFL’s existing Medical and Disability Benefits programs, and to promote safety and injury prevention for football players of all ages.
The Settlement provides for varying compensatory awards based on a Retired Players’ Qualifying Diagnosis, and waives all requirements of proving causation for Players with Qualifying Diagnoses. The maximum awards are Level 1.5 Neurocognitive Impairment ($1.5M); Level 2.0 Neurocognitive Impairment ($3M); Parkinson’s Disease ($3.5M); Alzheimer’s Disease ($3.5M); Death with CTE ($4M); and ALS ($5M). These awards are subject to mitigating offsets, including age at time of diagnosis, fewer than five Eligible Seasons in the NFL, and failure to participate in the BAP for players who have not yet received a Qualifying Diagnosis.
The first lawsuit filed against the NFL was in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, on July 19, 2011. 73 former professional football players filed suit against the NFL, alleging that the NFL Parties failed to reasonably protect players from chronic risks created by concussive and sub-concussive head injuries, and even fraudulently concealed those risks from players. Additional suits quickly followed, and on January 31, 2012, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation consolidated all of the concussion lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Brody.
On April 9, 2013, Judge Brody heard oral argument regarding the NFL’s motions to dismiss the lawsuits based on preemption of the Collective Bargaining Agreements in place. On July 8, 2013, Judge Brody ordered the Parties to participate in mediation, and after almost two months of continuous negotiations, the parties agreed to a $765 million settlement fund. The Parties then spent the next four months further negotiating the terms of the proposed settlement, which was filed on January 6, 2014. Judge Brody initially denied preliminary approval based on her concerns that “the capped fund would exhaust before the 65-year life of the Settlement,” and the required release of both the NCAA and other amateur and youth football organizations. The Parties then engaged in an additional five months of negotiations and on June 25, 2014, Class Counsel filed a second motion for preliminary approval, which was granted.
After hearing Retired Players’ concerns at a Fairness Hearing on November 19, 2014, Judge Brody requested several changes be made in response to the objections and arguments raised. On February 13, 2015, counsel for both Parties agreed with Judge Brody’s proposed changes and submitted the amended Settlement that is the subject of Judge Brody’s final approval.
Thousands of Retired NFL Players who suffer from neurocognitive injuries as a result of the concussions and sub-concussive events they experienced while playing in the NFL will benefit from this Settlement. If you are a Retired NFL Player who has experienced neurocognitive symptoms, feel free to contact Pope McGlamry at 877-285-7656 to schedule a case review with our expert legal team.