For months we have heard that the $765 million dollar proposed settlement between the NFL and over 4,500 retired players, who sued the league for hiding the dangers of concussions, is not enough. Today, Judge Brody agreed.
Judge Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania rejected the proposed settlement because the league and the plaintiffs’ lawyers had not produced enough evidence to convince her that $765 million would cover the potential costs for 18,000 retirees over the 65-year life of the agreement.
“I am primarily concerned that not all retired N.F.L. football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid,” Brody wrote.
The players’ lawyers have said that economists and actuaries they hired said that there would be sufficient money available.
“Unfortunately, no such analyses were provided to me in support of the plaintiffs’ motion,” Brody said. “In the absence of additional supporting evidence, I have concerns about the fairness, reasonableness and adequacy of the settlement.”
See, NY Times Article.
From here, if nothing else, the initial payments to the retired players will be delayed. The NFL and the plaintiff’s lawyers will need to provide evidence showing that the proposed settlement amount is sufficient to pay the retired player’s claims. A Special Master will likely review the documents and advise the Judge of his/her opinion. If those efforts are unsuccessful, the two sides will be forced to rework the agreement by adding more money to the settlement or adjusting the payout categories.
Either way, there is still much work to be done in this groundbreaking case. The decisions made here “will provide a framework for the settlement of other concussion-related lawsuits, including those brought by former hockey players against the N.H.L. and by former college football players against the N.C.A.A.” Today’s order shows that Judge Brody is well aware of the implications and wants to ensure that this is done correctly.