Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Judge Asks for Revisions to Concussion Settlement - NYTimes.com

Julian Edelman tackled - image kansascity.com
Judge Anita Brody has called for modest changes in the settlement she preliminarily approved in July.  Her February 2 order does not affect the basic structure, nor does it address the biggest gap: only those who suffer from specified diseases like parkinsonism or have already died and have been diagnosed as suffering CTE - traumatic brain injury will recover.  Thousands of players are at risk of or already suffering from CTE.  But since only an autopsy can -at present - diagnose the condition no one alive on the day of final approval will recover for that disorder.

There is much to commend in the settlement - especially medical benefits - but much to fault.  The proposed settlement has come under sharp attack.  Public Citizen Litigation Group has argued that the two lead plaintiffs cannot adequately or fairly represent the entire class of injured players.  Former player Sean Morey, in a powerful objection, made similar points and focused on the exclusion of players who now or will suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  Although the number of players who have opted out is small, in my opinion the settlement is vulnerable on appeal because of the exclusion of CTE claims - except for those who have died or will die by the time of final approval.

The issue of concussions and brain injury will not go away, as millions saw Julian Edelman, dazed by a tackle in the Super Bowl, play on and score.  Edelman had missed the two previous games because of a concussion.

- gwc

Judge Asks for Revisions to Concussion Settlement - NYTimes.com

by Ken Belson

Lawyers for the league and the former players have until Feb. 13 to submit a plan that addresses all of the judge’s concerns.

If Judge Brody is satisfied with the revisions, she is expected to complete the deal, which includes a promise from the N.F.L. to pay up to $5 million to players with certain severe neurological conditions.

The judge’s requests are designed to address some of the complaints the former players and their families expressed at a fairness hearing in November.

They include allowing all players to receive credit for the years they played in the World League of American Football, the N.F.L. Europe League and the N.F.L. Europa League. Under the current deal, those years were not used to calculate the size of an award a player could receive.

The families of retired players who were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease diagnosed only after death, would now be able to file claims if the diagnosis was made up to the date of the final approval of the settlement instead of July 6, when it received preliminary approval.

Judge Brody made certain dispensations for some plaintiffs who do not have medical records to support their cases.

The judge also asked that the N.F.L. remove the $75 million cap for the baseline assessment program, which is available to all players and designed to provide a benchmark to determine whether or how much a player’s cognitive condition has deteriorated.

Finally, the judge asked that the $1,000 fee for appealing a medical claim be waived for players of limited means.

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