Judge rejects preliminary approval of NFL concussion settlement

Allison Joyce

A federal judge refused to approve the proposed settlement between retired NFL players and the league on Tuesday, citing concerns about whether it would be enough to cover all potential claims.

A federal judge has rejected the preliminary approval of a $675 million settlement between the NFL and retired players over concussion claims. Judge Anita Brody denied the settlement out of concerns that it would not be sufficient to cover all potential claims from plaintiffs.

From Judge Brody's statement:

"I am primarily concerned that not all Retired NFL Football Players who ultimately receive a Qualifying Diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid. The Settlement fixes the size of the Monetary Award Fund.

"In various hypothetical scenarios, the Monetary Award Fund may lack the necessary funds to pay Monetary Awards for Qualifying Diagnoses.

"More specifically, the Settlement contemplates a $675 million Monetary Award Fund with a 65-year lifespan for a Settlement Class of approximately 20,000 people."

The judge asked for additional information from both parties concerning the financial details of the settlement.

The final sum agreed upon by both sides actually totaled $765 million. That amount included portions set aside for research, education and baseline testing for eligible plaintiffs, leaving the $675 million for paying actual claims. Not all claims would have been addressed the same. For example, players with ALS would be eligible for up to $5 million, with payouts scaled for different neurological diseases and death benefits.

Payments were to be distributed over a 20-year period, with up to half of the money being available immediately for players in need. That was cited by plaintiffs' lawyers as one of several factors in agreeing to the settlement, which was seen by some to be too small from the outset.

The judge also cited concerns about the impact of the settlement on other organizations, including the NCAA.

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