NFL’s Concussion Claims Could Reach $950 Million

By Dawn McCarty and | September 15, 2014

The National Football League will have to pay about $950 million to resolve players’ head-injury claims, based on estimates that fewer than one in five will seek compensation for injuries eligible for cash awards, according to a newly released report.

The analysis done for the lead plaintiffs’ lawyers found some 3,600 players, about 17 percent of potential class members, would get paid. About 15,000 won’t develop injuries eligible for compensation, while roughly 2,300 former players who have qualifying injuries won’t participate in the program, according to the analysis. The report was made public following requests from Bloomberg and ESPN.

About 5,000 football players have sued the league for damages for head injuries. In the complaints, consolidated before U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, retirees accused the NFL of failing to inform players of the link between repeated traumatic head impact and long-term brain injuries.

In August 2013, the league agreed to pay $765 million to settle the concussion claims. Brody denied preliminary approval of that deal in January on concern it wouldn’t be enough to fund all claims over 65 years. Under the terms of a revised deal, announced June 25, the NFL would pay at least $675 million in cash to retirees suffering from conditions including dementia.

The league agreed to absorb costs above that amount. Medical tests and educational programs would bring the total settlement to $765 million.

Fund Earnings

Although the total expected to be paid out is about $950 million, the league would pay about 54 percent of the amount in the first 20 years, according to the analysis. Earnings on funds over that time mean the $675 million initial cash portion is sufficient to fund all the claims, according to the report.

More than a dozen players or their relatives have objected to the deal saying it fails to address wrongful-death claims and provides no benefit for players suffering from early effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a potentially fatal brain disease.

The largest payments would go to players suffering from Alzheimer’s under the analysis, according to the filing.

The case is In re National Football Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, 12-md-02323, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

–With assistance from Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware.

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