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NFL must show and tell how concussion payouts were determined

The NFL has done the math and come up with what the court believes is the right answer in the concussion class action filed by former players and their families. Now, the judge overseeing the settlement has ordered the league to show its work.

In a ruling on Sept. 8, the judge ordered the league to make public the details of the calculations and economic analyses used to determine the payouts to the plaintiffs. The action came in response to the plaintiffs’ very vocal complaints that the $765 million settlement is just not enough.

Still not enough, that is. The court had balked at approving the proposed settlement at the beginning of the year. At issue then, as now, was whether the $765 million would be enough to compensate 20,000 retired players who have been coping with the long-term effects of concussions suffered during games and practices. (Remember, the players in this case and others claim that the NFL knew of the dangers of repeated blows to the head but did not alter its training or playing tactics and did not inform the players of the potential for the long-term, debilitating effects of concussive brain injuries.)

In July, the court agreed to the dollar amount when the NFL lifted the proposed cap on payments to the players. The court reportedly came to the decision after reviewing supplemental data provided by the league that supported the league’s formula — that showed its work.

The settlement allocates funds according to each player’s concussion-related illness. The plaintiffs will have until Oct. 14 to review the information and to decide whether to accept the settlement or to opt out.

Some plaintiffs have already said they will not participate in the settlement. Among their concerns are that the agreement ignores both wrongful death claims and claims made by players in the early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a progressive brain disease that has been found in other players (post mortem) who endured multiple concussions during their football careers.

This order is not the last hurdle to a final agreement. Other players are petitioning higher courts to toss out the preliminary settlement altogether, and yet other players are waiting on the sidelines for their turns to object.

Source: Claims Journal, “Judge Orders NFL to Release Data, Analyses Used in Concussion Settlement,” Sophia Pearson and Jef Feeley, Sept. 9, 2014

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