By: Allan M. Siegel
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it will not consider challenges to
the concussion settlement between the National Football League and over
20,000 former athletes. The Supreme Court’s decision, handed down
on Monday December 11th, settles a long-running class action lawsuit from
former players and families who claimed the NFL concealed information
about what it knew of the risks players faced regarding concussions and
chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.
Following several rejections and revisions, a Federal judge approved the
settlement in 2015. However, the settlement was then challenged by a group
of players who argued that it was unfair and would leave out many former
athletes who were not yet diagnosed. The group of dissenting players also
questioned whether the deal should be renegotiated following an
admission by the NFL’s executive vice president of health and safety that
there is a link between football-related head trauma and CTE. Following
the challenge, a federal appeals court ruled that the admission did not
invalidate the deal, and the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision.
Now that challenges are over and the settlement finalized, payouts for
medical and other benefits can begin. Depending on how each of the more
than 20,000 former players are paid, the settlement could cost the NFL
up to $1 billion over 65 years. Compensation will be based on a number
of brain conditions and their severity.
A breakdown of the maximum financial awards for diagnosed brain conditions
are as follows:
- $1.5 million for Level 1.5 neurocognitive impairment – defined as
early dementia with moderate to severe cognitive decline.
- $3 million for Level 2 neurocognitive impairment – defined as moderate
dementia with severe cognitive decline.
- $3.5 million for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
- $4 million for CTE, which is diagnosed after death.
- $5 million for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Although there is some finality to the settlement, experts agree that it
will be a long and difficult road for many players in determining their
eligibility, and that some may discover they are not covered. The settlement
will also provide a roadmap to resolve claims for current or recently
retired athletes who were not part of the class.
In addition to addressing the needs of athletes and families who have suffered
tremendous harm and losses as a result of brain injuries, the settlement
and the on-going battle has helped raise awareness about the link between
brain injury and long-term damage. As such, the NFL has instituted new
protocol for dealing with concussions and supporting ongoing research.
Other football organizations throughout the country of all levels have
also instituted new procedures to protect their athletes. This includes
youth athletes in the District of Columbia, who are protected by the
DC Youth Athletic Concussion Protection Act drafted by Partner Joseph Cammarata.
As Brain Injury Association of America “Preferred Attorneys”
for the DC Metro area, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.
is passionate about helping victims of brain injuries and their families
better understand their legal rights. If you have questions about brain
injuries sustained in sports or any other type of accident,
contact our team for a free consultation.