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High Stakes for Retired NFL Players: Judge Declines to Approve $765 Million Settlement

April 04, 2014

The lawsuit filed by former players against the NFL has focused attention on the potential risk of head trauma and concussions to athletes in contact sports at all levels, including youth, collegiate and professional sports leagues. These safety concerns and the stakes in terms of player safety and financial costs are reflected by the recent decision of a federal judge not to grant preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement because of fears that it will be inadequate to compensate the 20,000 retired players who have a financial stake in the outcome of the litigation. Although the majority of personal injury lawsuits are resolved through a negotiated settlement prior to trial, this lawsuit reveals that even large proposed settlements in class action lawsuits can be rejected by a judge.

The judge has requested that the parties to the litigation provide a financial analysis so that the judge can further evaluate the proposed settlement. The judge expressed concerns that the proposed amount of the settlement might be insufficient to compensate all of the players or families of players who receive a qualifying diagnosis. The broad structure of the proposed settlement would determine awards based on the severity of injury and age of the player. A retired player who is younger in age with Lou Gehrig’s disease would receive $5 million while those diagnosed with dementia would receive $3 million. Former players of an advanced age (80 and older) suffering from the early stages of dementia would receive $25,000. Any retired players who are asymptomatic would have access to further screening and supplemental care.

Class action litigation in this type of matter can be complicated as the parties will now need to use medical, actuarial and economic experts to establish the sufficiency and fairness of the settlement proposal. While the settlement may ultimately be approved based on the current proposal or with slight increases, this will depend on the financial and medical information provided by each side. When this type of settlement of a class action is rejected, it will usually be for one of the following reasons: (1) inadequate money to fairly compensate all members of the class; (2) unfairness to a party or lack of good faith and fair dealing by the parties; or (3) an unfair division of the funds between the attorneys and class representatives and other class members.

While NFL players have the strength and size to generate an enormous amount of impact in a collision on the gridiron, football-related concussions and head injuries are a serious issue at all levels of the sport. If you or someone close to you suffers a significant head injury or repeated concussions, this may provide a legal basis to pursue financial compensation. Whether the injury is the result of a defective helmet or a coach’s decision to reinsert a player into practice or a game before the symptoms of a prior concussion have completely abated, athletes who suffer head injuries because of defective equipment or negligent policies for handling such injuries often experience significant long-term effects.

If you or someone close to you suffers lingering symptoms from trauma to the head during a contact sport or any type of accident, our Georgia personal injury attorneys provide diligent representation of athletes and others injured due to negligence. Montlick and Associates has been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.