PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge says the NFL and more than 4,500 former players want to settle concussion-related lawsuits for $765 million.
The global settlement would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research.
The plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. They also include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
The lawsuits accuse the league of hiding known risks of concussions for decades to return players to games and protect its image. The NFL has denied any wrongdoing.
Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed settlement Thursday. She still needs to approve the deal, which comes after months of court-ordered mediation.
Highlights of the proposed settlement between the NFL and more than 4,500 ex-players who sued over concussion-related injuries:
- NFL would pay $765 million plus legal costs, but admits no wrongdoing.
- Individual awards would be capped at $5 million for players suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
- Individual awards would be capped at $4 million for deaths from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
- Individual awards would be capped at $3 million for players suffering from dementia.
- Money would go toward medical exams and concussion-related compensation for NFL retirees and their families, and $10 million toward medical research.
- Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia must approve the settlement.
Earlier today, in accordance with the reporting requirements in my order of July 8, 2013, the Honorable Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator, informed me that the plaintiffs and the NFL defendants had signed a Term Sheet incorporating the principal terms of a settlement. Judge Phillips also reported that the proposed settlement provides for a payment by the NFL defendants of $765,000,000 to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, and a program of medical research for retired NFL players and their families, as well as to pay certain litigation expenses. In addition to this, the NFL will pay court-approved attorneys' fees. Furthermore, Judge Phillips advised me that the parties are preparing to submit a motion seeking preliminary court approval of the settlement that will incorporate the full documentation relating to the settlement.
Of course, I reserve judgment on the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of the settlement until the motions for preliminary and final approval of the settlement are filed. At that time, counsel must present a complete explanation and justification for the settlement. Right now, however, I commend the parties and their counsel on their extensive and good faith negotiations and thank Judge Phillips for his diligence in assisting the parties in reaching an agreement.
From the outset of this litigation, I have expressed my belief that the interests of all parties would be best served by a negotiated resolution of this case. The settlement holds the prospect of avoiding lengthy, expensive and uncertain litigation, and of enhancing the game of football.
In light of the proposed settlement by the plaintiffs and the NFL defendants, I will defer ruling on the NFL's motion to dismiss that was argued on April 9, 2013. After conferring with the parties, I will order that counsel submit, as soon as possible, but by a date certain, the full documentation relating to the settlement, along with a motion seeking preliminary approval of the settlement and related plan of notice to members of the settlement class.
AND NOW, this 29th day of August, 2013, the order of July 8, 2013 (ECF No. 5128) is modified to allow the parties to announce the terms of the settlement of the plaintiffs' claims against the NFL defendants. Because the proposed settlement does not include the Riddell defendants, the order of July 8, 2013 remains in effect as to all of the Riddell defendants: they and their counsel must refrain from publicly discussing the mediation process or disclosing any discussions they may have as part of that process.
Source: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
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