Last week, the National Football League (“NFL”) reached a settlement with a group of former players who filed suit against the league for the way it handled player concussions. The $765 million settlement over 20 years includes medical exam funding for former players, a research and education fund, compensation for concussion-related injuries, and court-approved attorneys’ fees. NFL retirees or their families are eligible for compensation. Half of the settlement amount is slotted to be paid out over the first three years, with the remaining spread out over the last 17 years of the settlement period. In addition, of the total settlement amount, $75 million is allocated for former player medical exams and $10 million is allocated for the research program.
Former players would have to show evidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s, memory loss or other severe cognitive impairments in order to qualify for funds from the settlement. The specific dollar amount provided to the former players or their families would be based on diagnosis, years played in league, and other criteria. Further, former players would not have to provide evidence that they ever suffered from a concussion in order to be eligible for the settlement money.
The terms of the settlement agreement only apply to the NFL. Co-defendants, such as helmet-maker Riddell Inc., are not a part of this settlement and are still a part of the case. Although the settlement concludes this particular multi-district litigation for the NFL, new suits have been filed by former players since the settlement agreement was announced, alleging that the NFL failed to protect players from concussion-related health problems. So it does not appear that there is any end in sight for concussion-related lawsuits.