Federal Judge Anita B. Brody asked the National Football League and the former players suing the league to revise portions of their settlement agreement before she would approve the deal. Judge Brody, who oversees the lawsuit filed by over 5,000 retired NFL players, requested that the parties enlarge the settlement in five areas so that more former players could receive benefits.
The lawsuit stems in part from the players’ allegations that the NFL concealed the immediate dangers and long-term effects of concussions. As a result, the players claim they now suffer from a number of debilitating diseases, including depression, dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is a degenerative disease that can only be diagnosed after death. The hidden nature of CTE prompted Judge Brody to request that families of former players be eligible to file claims up until the date of the settlement’s final approval instead of July 6, 2014, when the settlement received preliminary approval. Judge Brody’s requests came after she heard complaints from former players and their families at a fairness hearing last November.
Judge Brody’s other requested revisions include allowing all players to receive credit for the time they played in the World League of American Football, the NFL Europe League, and the NFL Europa League. The current settlement agreement does not permit such credits. Furthermore, Judge Brody made some exceptions for plaintiffs who did not have medical records to prove their injuries. She also asked that the NFL remove the $1,000 fee for appealing a medical claim if a player has limited financial means.
Those familiar with the case say that Judge Brody’s requests should not prevent a final settlement from being reached. Once Judge Brody’s requests are met, the NFL will commence payments to former players, which include $5 million to former players diagnosed with severe neurological conditions.