Even if you have no interest in sports or the law, you probably heard that the NFL settled its multi-district concussion litigation for $765 million on Thursday — and with good reason. Not only does this settlement prove that there were legitimate claims from former football players that the NFL knew and concealed the long-term dangers of head injuries, but also that the NFL will get to bury whatever damning information it possesses. Think about it, the NFL paid $765 million to escape the civil discovery process, yet still admits no wrongdoing. So what exactly does the NFL have to hide? Well, we may never know. But we do know is that the NFL was staring down a potential multi-BILLION dollar trial verdict and will get out of this mess easy.
Sure, $765 million seems like a lot of money, but when you subtract mediator fees ($2 million), class action notice fees ($4 million), and the as-yet to be disclosed attorney’s fees, that does not leave the 4,500 plaintiffs with much to pad their pockets. After perusing the settlement, here are some of the key points to know:
The NFL and NFL Properties will make payments in connection with the settlement as follows:
(A) Baseline medical exams, the cost of which will be capped at $75 million;
(B) A separate fund of $675 million to compensate former players who have suffered cognitive injury or their families;
(C) A separate research and education fund of $10 million;
(D) The costs of notice to the members of the class, which will not exceed $4 million;
(E) $2 million, representing one-half of the compensation of the Settlement Administrator for a period of 20 years; and
(F) Legal fees and litigation expenses to the plaintiffs’ counsel, which amounts will be set by the District Court.
(g) Timing of Payments – If the agreement receives preliminary approval from the District Court, the NFL will pay the costs of preparing and distributing notice to the class members (up to $4 million). If the settlement receives final approval, and any appeals have been concluded, the NFL will pay approximately 50 percent of the settlement amount over three years, and the balance over the next 17 years.
Since this is by far the most important litigation in football history, here is Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania Judge Anita Brody’s Settlement Order for your viewing pleasure.