Entertainment & Sports Law

NFL to pay $765M to settle concussion cases brought by 4,500 former players

In a surprise settlement of a major case that had been expected to be in litigation for years, the National Football League has agreed to pay $765 million to resolve multidistrict litigation being overseen by a federal judge in Philadelphia over brain injuries players say were caused by repeated concussions on the field.

The pact, which was announced Thursday and must still be approved by the court before it is final, will provide compensation to the 4,500 or so living plaintiffs who claim dementia and other injuries, as well as fund medical exams and medical research, according to the Associated Press, the Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. blog, the New York Times (req. req.) and the Wall Street Journal.

An unspecified amount of legal fees will be paid separately in addition to the settlement amount.

The NFL benefits from the pact by avoiding a liability finding and discovery about what the league knew and when concerning a claimed connection between head injuries and degenerative brain disease, as well as the possibility of a mega-verdict if the case had gone to trial that could have made it difficult or impossible for the NFL to obtain insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, both current and retired players and survivors of those who have died will be taken care of without having to fight a lengthy court battle, plaintiffs’ counsel said. Those who wish to pursue separate claims can still opt out of the settlement.

“Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed,” said court-appointed mediator Layn Phillips, a former federal judge, in a written statement.

See also:

ABA Journal (2011): “Thrown for a Loss: Retired Players Sue, Claim NFL Hid Brain Damage Info”

CNN: “NFL and ex-players reach deal in concussion lawsuit”

NFL Nation (ESPN): “NFL concussion settlement saved the game”

Pro Football Talk (NBC Sports): “Highlights of the concussion settlement”

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