NFL Concussion Lawsuit: Another Proposed Settlement

Posted on Jun 30, 2014

The NFL concussion lawsuit may be resolved. After the Federal District Court Judge rejected a proposed settlement fund of $675 million, former players and the National Football league have returned to the court with a new proposal.

Previously, the parties proposed establishment of a "capped" settlement fund of $675 million. Former players suffering the after effects of multiple concussions can make a claim for compensation against the fund. The US District Court Judge overseeing the case rejected the settlement, expressing concerns that the fund amount was inadequate to cover all potential claims.

The new proposed settlement establishes a compensation system, but without a capped fund. Players who can establish a “qualifying diagnosis” are entitled to compensation, depending on the severity of their traumatic brain injury. A player diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gerhig’s Disease, is entitled to up to $3.5 million. Players that can establish they suffer Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s are entitled to up to $4 million in compensation. Families of players diagnosed after death with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) qualify for compensation up to $5 million.

This settlement would only apply to those players that are retired at the time the judge approves the terms of the agreement.  Players who do not suffer these more serious injuries can qualify for a baseline neurological or neuropsychological examination, further testing, counseling and treatment.

Some advocates do not like the terms of the settlement, arguing that the terms of the agreement do not encompass a great number of players who suffer “less serious” traumatic brain injury that causes cognitive impairment, dizziness, light sensitivity, confusion, and migraine headaches. In addition, those protesting the settlement terms explain that a large number of players will suffer the significant symptoms, and not have any real options for medical care, simply because some of these symptoms are not treatable.

With any mass tort claim, there are advantages and disadvantages to these mass tort claim settlement funds. A player making a claim against on his own would have to first prove that the NFL knew of the danger of concussions, but did not warn the player, or work to prevent brain injuries.  The player would have to prove that his resulting brain injury or disease was a result of play in the NFL.  Also,  player would face defenses that he had not filed is suit in time, or that he had no claim because he was part of collective bargaining agreement.

Under this proposed settlement, however, any player making a claim is not required to prove that their cognitive or neurological issues resulted from playing football. Given the complexity of traumatic brain injury, this is no easy task. Also, a player going at it alone need not overcome the NFL's arguments about the statute of limitations, or assumption of the risk.

The Judge overseeing the case still has to approve the settlement. It may take the parties a couple more tries to get it right in the eyes of this Judge.

We have helpful information about traumatic brain injuries, and a lot of the legal issues people face when making claims for compensation.  If you cannot find the answer to your questions, give us a call at 503-325-8600.  We have helped many people struggling with traumatic brain injuries.