High court re­jects NFL con­cus­sion chal­lenges

Leaves $1 bil­lion set­tle­ment in place

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY JIMMY GOLEN

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.

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