Ex-NFL players are close to reaching a large settlement with the NFL for its concussion claims. The potential $1 billion settlement is close to receiving approval from Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, subject to the addition and clarification of a few minor points.
The lawsuits allege that the NFL hid studies linking concussions to neurological problems for decades. However, the NFL has maintained that, unless a settlement is reached, the cases should be submitted to an arbitrator and not heard in a federal court. But it seems as if arbitration is a moot poing now that a settlement is on the horizon.
According to Judge Brody, the agreement determines awards for both time spent in NFL Europe and other affiliated leagues and cover brain-trauma deaths up until the date the agreement is finalized.
However, absent from Judge Brody's request for revisions were the following three criticisms, which she raised during a fairness hearing held in November:
The average payout of $190,00 for aging men struggling with Alzheimer's disease or dementia is too low;
The plan has too many variables to estimate what families should expect, and decide to opt out or appeal; and
There are no future payouts for what many call the "signature" scourge of football concussions - CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Lawyer Craig Mitnick represents more than 1,000 ex-players from the NFL. He expects the lead players' lawyers and the NFL to reach an agreement by the judge's Friday February 13th deadline.
The settlement has the ability to pay a total of $1 billion over 65 years, including interest and $112 million for potential lawyer fees. All retired players would be eligible for baseline testing.
The question that inarguably arises is what other medical problems and dysfunctional bodily injuries may be hidden or shoved under the table? Is this a problem that should be handled ex poste or should more be done right now to make sure that all players are receiving adequate treatment and are fully aware of the medical and health problems that may ensue. In the heat of battle, sitting and waiting on the sidelines for your time to crush the opponent or that moment to get your hands on the football, players may not realize the extent of damage they can do to themselves in the long-term. Is the NFL doing everything it can? Or can it do more?
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CHRONIC TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY (CTE)
Lawyer, Thomas Demetria, represents the family of Dave Duerson, a well-known Chicago Bears safety in the NFL. After his suicide in 2011, Duerson was found to have CTE.
CTE is considered to be one of the most serious injuries that can occur to players over time. It affects the part of the brain that controls mood, anger, suicidal tendencies, etc. It can only be diagnosed after death. Moreover, it has been found in dozens of concussed ex-athletes. Some scientists contend that there may be tests to discover CTE for living people within the next ten years
According to the terms of the settlement, families of those who died with CTE between 2006 and the date it is finalized would be paid up to $4 million. However, there would be no payout for future deaths involving CTE, to avoid "incentivizing" suicide. Moreover, there is no plan to compensate men with non-cognitive problems, such as emotional issues including but not limited to depression and mood disorders.