The litigation between the NFL and 4,500 retired NFL players who are seeking
compensation for the head injuries they sustained while they played for
the league, may be over. Yesterday, former United States District Court
Judge Phillips, a court appointed mediator was able to facilitate a settlement
agreement between the NFL and the retired players bringing suit, one of
the largest settlement agreements in history. The proposed settlement
agreement has been submitted to the United States District Judge Anita
B. Brody for approval. However, United States District Judge Anita B.
Brody retains the discretion to approve or reject the agreement reached
by the parties.
According to the agreement the NFL would pay $765 million for medical benefits
and injury compensation to the retired players, as well as for medical
research, safety research and litigation expenses. If approved, this agreement
would provide much needed compensation for the retired NFL players and
reduce the risk of head trauma injuries for current NFL players.
This settlement agreement is not an admission of liability by the NFL and
would allow the retired players to be relieved of carrying their burden
of proving liability in this case. Alternatively, if the parties had failed
to come to a settlement agreement, then the Plaintiffs, retired NFL players
would have the burden of proving the NFL’s liability to a judge
or jury. If at trial the retired players failed to carry their burden,
then they would not recover compensation for their injuries. By the same
token, if the NFL had refused to agree to this settlement and the retired
players were able to prove the NFL’s liability at trial, not only
would the NFL likely have to pay compensation to the players, but would
also have their reputation permanently tarnished.
Many of the retired players bringing suit suffer from a brain injury known
as Cognitive Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Proving the player’s
head trauma was the cause of CTE, a degenerative brain disease would be
difficult. While some studies have found a correlation between repetitive
impacts to the head and the development of CTE or Mild Cognitive Impairment
(MCI), the studies are not conclusive. One study conducted at Loyola University
Chicago Stritch School of Medicine has found that ex-NFL players are more
prone to other health conditions such as, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
While other studies attribute the development of CTE and MCI to a person’s
predisposition to degenerative brain disease.
Therefore, the proposed settlement agreement waiving the requirement of
proving liability and providing for adequate compensation, would likely
be favorable for all parties involved in the litigation.
Head injuries exist outside the world of professional sports. If you have sustained
a head injury as a result of an automotive accident or slip and fall,
please call the law offices of Mainetti, Mainetti, & O’Connor.