The National Football League’s $765 million concussion settlement was given the all-clear by a federal appeals court.
The ruling sets in motion the resolution of thousands of lawsuits covering more than 20,000 retired players. About 1 percent of players opted out of the settlement, which is to compensate players for head injuries over the next 65 years.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia issued its ruling Monday upholding a trial judge’s approval last year.
In lawsuits consolidated before U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, players accused the NFL of negligence and failing to inform players of the link between repeated traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries.
The settlement, the result of two years of negotiations, includes cash for retirees suffering from a list of injuries including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The appeal focused on the treatment of players with symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain disease that can’t be diagnosed in living people. Under the accord, families of players who died from CTE before the deal’s final approval would receive as much as $4 million each. Those living with symptoms of the disease, which include mood and behavioral changes and suicidal thoughts, would get far less if anything, lawyers said.
The average CTE payment under the deal is about $1.4 million, Deepak Gupta, an attorney for objecting players, told the appeals court in November.
Lawyers for objecting players questioned the fairness of a deal in which 72 percent of the class is getting nothing. The vast majority of retired players have not yet been diagnosed with a qualifying injury, Gupta said.
CTE has been linked to the suicides of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau and Chicago Bears safety David Duerson. Seau’s family opted out of the settlement to pursue its own claims.