The NFL’s concussion settlement was approved today by a federal judge. The decision is important because U.S. District Judge Anita Brody has held it up before, once because the amount in the fund had been capped (the cap has since been removed) and another time due to limits on money for medical monitoring, the New York Times reported.
Brody’s decision is considered final, although this is not the end of the legal battle over concussions. Brody’s decision can be appealed. The settlement also excludes those families, including Junior Seau’s, who chose to opt out and pursue their own litigation. The settlement notes that about 1 percent of the total group opted out, which the Associated Press reported earlier this year was about 200 people.
The settlement gives players 180 days to register. Though the fund itself isn’t capped, the payouts for individuals are. Here’s the payment schedule for each “qualifying diagnosis”:
- Level 1.5 neurocognitive impairment, $1.5 million
- Level 2 neurocognitive impairment, $3 million
- Parkinson’s disease $3.5 million
- Alzheimer’s disease $3.5 million
- Death with CTE $4 million
- ALS $5 million
If a player’s conditions worsens to the point he gets another “qualifying diagnosis” with a higher payout, he is entitled to the difference. However, there also are several factors that can decrease a payout, per the settlement. They are:
- A player’s age. The settlement says, “The older a Retired Player is at the time he receives a Qualifying Diagnosis, the smaller his award will be.”
- A person who played less than five “eligible seasons” in the NFL will see his award decrease. The often quoted number for the average length of an NFL career is 3.5 years, although one analysis done by a class at Dartmouth put it at closer to 5.3—with fluctuations based on position (running backs were the lowest, at 4.35, while punters and kickers were the highest at 8.33)
- A retired player who has a stroke or severe TBI outside of NFL football will “receive a significantly smaller award” but will have the chance to challenge if the stroke or severe TBI “is related to his Qualifying Diagnosis.”
- Any award can be reduced to satisfy “any applicable and legally enforceable government liens.”
The full 132-page settlement agreement is below.
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