NFL Concussion Lawsuit Update – April 2016
On April 18, 2016, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Anita Brody’s decision approving the Settlement in In re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL 2323.
A Brief History of the Lawsuit
The settlement deal between the former players and the NFL originally came about in 2013, and was revised in 2014 to remove the cap on the amount the NFL may have to pay players who are diagnosed with any of the Qualifying Diagnoses over the 65-year life of the settlement. After a fairness hearing on November 19, 2014 before Judge Brody in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the settlement was again revised, and on April 22, 2015, Judge Brody issued a Final Order and Judgment.
The Final Ruling
Although more than 98 percent of former players approved the settlement, a handful of players appealed the Final Order to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. On November 19, 2015, oral arguments were heard, and the objectors argued, among other things, that diagnoses of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) should be covered through the 65-year life of the settlement, not just for those former players diagnosed by the date of approval. The Third Circuit stated that the District Court had carefully considered this argument and made detailed factual findings about the state of medical science regarding CTE at this point in time. Furthermore, contrary to the objectors’ arguments, the Third Circuit held that future CTE claims were not being released for “nothing.” Rather, “[a] primary purpose of the settlement is to provide insurance for living players who develop certain neurocognitive or neuromuscular impairments linked to repetitive head trauma (in addition to the benefits provided by the Baseline Assessment Program).”
The Third Circuit, in its 69-page ruling, also addressed the developments that took place during the pendency of the appeal, including the March 2016 Roundtable discussion on concussions by the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations, where the NFL Vice President cited Dr. Anne McKee’s research and publicly acknowledged and agreed there was a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE. The Third Circuit found that this admission only advances the public discussion on concussions and neurocognitive disorders, not the actual science, which still does not provide for a reliable diagnosis of CTE during life.
In concluding their opinion, the judges highlighted that the “settlement will provide nearly $1 billion in value to the class of retired players. It is a testament to the players, researchers and advocates who have worked to expose the true human costs of a sport so many love. Though not perfect, it is fair.”
Contact Pope McGlamry
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 today for a free case evaluation with our expert NFL Concussion Lawyers.