High court rejects NFL concussion challenges
Leaves $1 billion settlement in place
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the final two challenges to the estimated $1 billion settlement between the NFL and thousands of its former players who have been diagnosed with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions. Players who already have been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or dementia could begin receiving payments in 90 to 120 days.
“The benefits process will finally move forward,” said attorney Christopher Seeger, who represented the class of more than 20,000 retired NFL players now eligible for payments for the next 65 years.
The league has estimated that 6,000 former players — or nearly three in 10 — could develop Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia.
Payments could be as high as $5 million for those with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS; the average payout is expected to be closer to $190,000.
“These courageous men and their families, who in the face of great adversity took on the NFL, have made history,” Seeger said. “Despite the difficult health situations retired players face today, and that many more will unfortunately face in the future, they can take comfort in the fact that this settlement’s significant and immediate benefits will finally become available to them and last for decades to come.”
The class-action lawsuit filed in Philadelphia accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the link between concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease that has been found in dozens of former players after their deaths. Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody approved the deal last year after twice sending it back to lawyers over concerns the fund might run out.
It was upheld by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April.
“This settlement will provide significant and immediate relief to retired players living with the lasting scars of an NFL career,” Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel that affirmed the settlement. “We must hesitate before rejecting that bargain based on an unsupported hope that sending the parties back to the negotiating table would lead to a better deal.”
But two separate petitions asked the nation’s highest court to stop the settlement. Their requests for a Supreme Court hearing were rejected without comment from the justices on Monday.