NFL concussion lawyer expects case to heat up soon

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 11:39 am •  Published: March 21, 2014
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — The court fight over NFL concussions should heat up soon as a judge in Philadelphia weighs the fairness of the proposed $765 million settlement.

Lead players' lawyer Sol Weiss expects the court's financial expert to advise the judge "shortly" on his view of the class-action plan.

Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody has voiced concerns that the fund won't cover 20,000 retirees for 65 years. And critics believe the NFL is getting off lightly, given its $9 billion in annual revenues.

"When you look at it objectively, it didn't matter how much money the NFL had, it was, 'Is there enough money to take care of (people)?'" Weiss said Friday at a seminar at the Villanova University School of Law outside Philadelphia.

The proposed settlement would pay as much as $5 million for men with the most serious neurological injuries, such as Lou Gehrig's disease. The awards would depend on a retiree's age and diagnosis. Those with serious dementia would get $3 million, while an 80-year-old with early dementia would get $25,000. All plaintiffs would get cognitive testing, and follow-up care if needed.

"Even if only 10 percent of retired NFL football players eventually receive a qualifying diagnosis ... it is difficult to see how the monetary award fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants at these significant award levels," Brody wrote in January, when she asked for more actuarial details and appointed New York financier Perry Golkin to advise her.

Weiss remains confident the fund is sufficient, and that most players will sign on rather than spend years fighting the NFL in court. The surprise settlement emerged in August, after several months of closed-door meetings with a mediator.