U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Challenges to NFL Settlement

by | Dec 21, 2016

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.

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