On April 22, a settlement was reached by the National Football League (NFL) and thousands of ex-players regarding a class-action lawsuit filed by the players.
CNN reports that a federal judge approved the settlement, which if fully implemented over the agreed 65 year timeline could cost the NFL more than $1 billion. The settlement would pay out to former players dealing with, or who will have to deal with, Alzheimer’s disease, moderate dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease. Each retired player can stand to see up to $5 million in damages.
The lawsuit was filed against the NFL by players who accused the league of ignoring serious medical conditions they developed while playing. More than 5,000 retired NFL players participated in the lawsuit, citing medical issues stemming from repeated trauma to the head.
The settlement will go to players who retired before July 8th, 2014 as well as to the family members of players who died before then.
More than 200 retired players, however, decided not to join the lawsuit, opting instead to sue the NFL by themselves.
The plaintiffs hope that the money will come to them soon, though if the NFL appeals the settlement may not be allotted for quite some time. Typically, 95% of personal injury lawsuits are settled pretrial.
“Today, these courageous men and their families have made history,” said Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, two attorneys representing the players. “Despite the difficult health situations retired players face today, and that many more will unfortunately face in the future, they can take comfort that this settlement’s benefits will be available soon, and will last for decades to come.”
They cautioned, however, that an appeal could “take months, if not years” to resolve before players start to see payments.
Kevin Turner, a former fullback who filed one of the first lawsuits against the NFL for concussion-related injuries, was ecstatic about the settlement.
“What matters now is time, and many retired players do not have much left,” Turner wrote in a statement. “I hope this settlement is implemented without delay so that we can finally start helping those in need.”
Turner has ALS (otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”), a nervous system disease which he claims was caused by the head injuries he sustained while playing for the NFL.