Judge Anita Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has approved a preliminary settlement of a class action filed by former National Football League players claiming the League failed to take reasonable actions to protect players from the risks created by head injuries and attempted to conceal those risks from players. The N.F.L. does not admit to wrongdoing in the settlement.
Judge Brody had rejected an earlier $765 million proposed settlement because she was concerned that the cap on damages might be insufficient to cover all of the retirees’ claims.
The accord approved by Judge Brody on July 7 eliminates the cap on damages. Unlike the rejected version, this settlement permits the N.F.L. to challenge an unlimited number of claims to prevent fraud. The payment to each retiree diagnosed with an eligible condition will depend on his age and the length of his career.
The settlement now will be explained to the approximately 20,000 former players covered by the class action. A retiree who opts out of the settlement will not be bound by, or entitled to, the agreed upon terms. Any player who does not opt out will be deemed to have accepted it. A retiree also may file objections to the new settlement. Such objections were filed on July 2 by seven former players, just prior to Judge Brody’s approval of the settlement.
Judge Brody scheduled a hearing for November 19, after the former players have had an opportunity to respond, to determine whether the retirees have been fairly represented. If the retirees who filed objections disagree with Judge Brody’s decision, they can file an appeal.