By Nathan Fenno Los Angeles Times
In the first objection to the revised National Football League concussion settlement, seven retired players claim the proposed agreement is riddled with “fatal defects” that “render it anything but fair.”
Filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the 47-page objection targets, in part, the settlement’s limits on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, compensation and the 75 percent reduction in monetary awards to players who suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury unrelated to football.
The objection also says the proposed settlement notice is “false and misleading” because it doesn’t indicate that players diagnosed with CTE after the settlement’s preliminary approval aren’t eligible for compensation.
“It is a lousy deal for the retired players,” the objection said.
After U.S. District Judge Anita Brody rejected the proposed $765 million settlement in January, the NFL and plaintiffs’ lawyers submitted a revised version last month. To address Brody’s concerns about the settlement’s adequacy, the NFL removed its cap on payouts to retired players diagnosed with a qualifying neurocognitive condition. In exchange, there isn’t any limit to the number of payouts the league can appeal.
Both the NFL and co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs contend in the revised settlement that the original compensation fund of $675 million is sufficient.
The objection criticizes the mechanics buried in the settlement, including that players who don’t register with the claims administrator within 180 days of notice are ineligible for any benefits and that appealing an award decision costs $1,000 to players (the amount is refunded if they win) while the NFL pays nothing. Additionally, NFL Europe players aren’t credited for seasons in the league (award amounts are adjusted depending on a player’s experience) though they are bound by the settlement.
The seven players involved in the objection — Roderick Cartwright, Sean Considine, Alan Faneca, Ben Hamilton, Sean Morey, Jeff Rohrer and Robert Royal — expressed similar concerns in a separate motion to intervene in the litigation in May.
The proposed settlement covers all retired players, regardless of whether they sued the NFL, who don’t opt out.