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On Monday, a federal judge granted preliminary approval to a settlement in concussion suits brought by former NFL players against the National Football League. The settlement, if given final approval by the Judge, will provide hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 65 years to former NFL players suffering from brain injuries.
The preliminary approval comes after Philadelphia Judge Anita Brody denied a preliminary approval for a settlement in January that would have granted a $765 million settlement and would have included a fixed award fund at $675 million. While both sides agreed in January that the fixed award fund would be sufficient, the new preliminary settlement removes the cap from the monetary award fund.
The settlement will apply to all former NFL players who were retired as of Monday, not just former players who have sued the NFL. The Judge estimates that there are about 20,000 retired NFL players.
In the lawsuits against the NFL, former players alleged that the NFL knowingly concealed the risk of concussions and the long-term side effects concussions cause. The preliminary settlement will also include maximum awards of $5 million for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, $3.5 million for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and $4 million for a player diagnoses after death with a brain disease known as CTE.
In the near future, former NFL players will be notified of the terms and of the settlement and will have the opportunity to remain in the class or opt out of the settlement and continue with their own separate lawsuit. If a former player does not opt out of the settlement, he will forfeit the right to pursue other similar suits against the NFL.
The amount of the award to each former player will be determined by age at the time of diagnosis. A player between 75-79, for example will be eligible for a $1 million settlement, while a player under the age of 45 with a diagnosis of ALS will be eligible for the maximum $5 million.
The recent lawsuits by former NFL players have shed a new light on the dangers of concussions and head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force injures the brain. A TBI can be classified in multiple ways based on severity, mechanism, or location.