The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take another look at an uncapped settlement between former National Football League (NFL) players and the league that would end a long-running dispute over concussions and head injuries, clearing the way for an agreement that could wind up paying out up to $1 billion. The high court, without an explanation, denied a challenge by a group of players who claimed the settlement did not go far enough. A group of more than 30 players asked the high court to review a unanimous Third Circuit decision earlier this year affirming the settlement, arguing it leaves out retirees whose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) afflictions are not yet apparent.
Both the NFL and a larger group of settling players had signed off on the settlement, which offered a bottomless fund over a 65-year period to compensate a class of some 22,000 former NFL players. The settlement offers payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million for each retired player diagnosed with some of the most serious degenerative conditions connected to traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In a statement, Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP, a co-lead counsel for the retired players, said that the settlement will finally give the former players care and support for their injuries. He added:
These courageous men and their families, who in the face of great adversity took on the NFL, have made history. Despite the difficult health situations retired players face today, and that many more will unfortunately face in the future, they can take comfort in the fact that this settlement’s significant and immediate benefits will finally become available to them and last for decades to come.
Former Buffalo Bills player Carlton Chester “Cookie” Gilchrist and another 31 former players had asked for the review. They said the settlement suffered from a lack of scientific discovery, as is evidenced by the recent Kevin Turner CTE diagnosis. Turner, who is from Prattville, Ala., a former New England Patriots player, died in March. The condition can still only be diagnosed after a post-mortem analysis of a patient’s brain. The NFL had also urged the high court not to take up the petitions, claiming that throwing out the settlement would jeopardize the claims of the 20,000 class members who signed on to the agreement.
The settling Plaintiffs are represented by Seeger Weiss; Anapol Schwartz Weiss Cohan Feldman & Smalley and Podhurst Orseck, among other firms. The other petitioners are represented by Richard Coffman of The Coffman Law Firm, Mitchell Toups of Weller Green Toups & Terrell; Jason Webster of The Webster Law Firm; and Deepak Gupta, Matthew Wessler and Jonathan Taylor of Gupta Wessler PLLC.
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