By: Allan M. Siegel
A day after the Super Bowl, United States District Judge Anita Brody again blocked a proposed settlement by the NFL for former players who suffered from traumatic brain injuries. Judge Brody - who rejected a proposed settlement last year and then granted preliminary approval after the NFL
removed a cap on payments - stated that the terms of the proposed settlement did not meet the needs of players who experienced head injuries and other medical conditions as a result of their football careers. She also called for changes in order for the settlement to be approved.
The modifications requested by Judge Brody take into account complaints voiced by former athletes and their families, and include:
- Allowing credits for athletes who played in other NFL associations.
- Making families of players diagnosed with CTE eligible to file claims up to the date of the settlement's final approval.
- Improving benefits / creating exceptions for players who do not have sufficient medical records to support their claims.
- Removing a $75 million cap for the baseline assessment program available to all players. The program tests players to determine the presence and extent of cognitive impairments.
- Waiving the $1,000 fee for appealing medical claims for players with limited means.
The request for settlement modifications is yet another hiccup in the lengthy attempt to resolve claims filed by thousands of former athletes. In her order, Judge Brody most notably called for expanding coverage of players diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious neurological condition that can only be diagnosed after death.
Additionally, Brody pushed for providing credits to athletes who played in foreign leagues associated with the NFL. Under current terms of the settlement, the years an athlete played in the World League of American Football, the NFL Europe League, and the NFL Europa League would not factor into the size of an award they could receive.
Ultimately, Judge Brody chose to block the settlement because she felt that certain modifications would "enhance the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy" of the settlement. Lawyers for the NFL and players have until February 13th to propose amendments to the settlement, which aims to provide players with qualifying neurological conditions up to $5 million in compensation.
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. has long supported former athletes struggling with brain injuries in their quest for fair compensation. If you have questions about concussions, traumatic brain injuries, and your legal rights, our attorneys are available to help.