A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia came about two weeks after the NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages. Brody had previously questioned whether that would be enough money to pay all claims.
"A class action settlement that offers prompt relief is superior to the likely alternative — years of expensive, difficult, and uncertain litigation, with no assurance of recovery, while retired players’ physical and mental conditions continue to deteriorate," Brody wrote.
More than 4,500 former players have filed suit, some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions. They include former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia.
The settlement is designed to last at least 65 years and give $1 million or more to retirees who develop Lou Gehrig’s disease and other profound neurological problems.
Rich Miano, who has been a representative of NFL players in the suit, lauded the new settlement, saying that "while it wasn’t exactly what we wanted or what the NFL thought they could settle for, it will take care of anybody that has a serious injury. That’s something the first settlement, that was close-ended at $675 million, wasn’t going to do."
Miano, a former UH defensive back who played a decade in the NFL, said, "One of the most significant things to come out of this lawsuit is the education, from youth sports all the way to pro sports, about preventing and dealing with concussions. That’s something that would not have happened without this lawsuit."
He estimated that more than two dozen players with Hawaii ties are party to the suit.