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NFL concussion class action settlement approved

NFL concussion class action settlement approved

A federal judge in Philadelphia on Wednesday granted final approval to a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 former players against the National Football League for concussion-related injuries.

In a seven-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody said she found the settlement agreement “fair, reasonable and adequate” and approved it in its entirety.

According to the New York Times, the settlement could cost the NFL more than $1 billion and is designed to provide payments to players for up to $5 million apiece if they prove to have certain neurological conditions.

“As a result of the settlement, retirees and their families will be eligible for prompt and substantial benefits and will avoid years of costly litigation that — as Judge Brody's comprehensive opinion makes clear — would have an uncertain prospect of success,” the NFL's executive vice president and general counsel, Jeff Pash, said in a statement.

View a football player litigation slide show.

Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired player plaintiffs and partner at Seeger Weiss L.L.P., expressed gratitude for the settlement approval but said that he couldn't say when money will reach the affected players, estimating that that it would take 90 to 120 days to get a claims network in place.

“There is a claims process that needs to be established, so that former players right now that have a diagnosed medical condition that is compensated can fill out a claims package and get it into the claim administrator, and there is chance that by summer's end that compensation will be rolling out,” Mr. Seeger said during a conference call with reporters.

Nonetheless, Mr. Seeger said he has “modest concern” that future appeals from objecting class members could derail or delay the settlement.

In addition to objecting members of the class action, other former players have opted out of the settlement entirely, charging that the deal was fraught with red tape for injured players and excluded future payments for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain condition found in former athletes who have suffered concussions.

“The Opt Outs are excluded from the Settlement Class pursuant to request and are not bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement or this Final Order and Judgment,” Judge Brody wrote in her ruling.

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