NEW YORK: The estimated $1 billion (0.88 billion euros) settlement agreed by the National Football League and players who sued for compensation over concussions was upheld on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) by a federal appeals court.
A three-judge panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia gave unanimous approval to the deal which was inked in April last year in a landmark ruling.
A group of players had objected to the terms of the settlement, with lawyers arguing it does not provide adequate compensation for victims of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease which has been found in several deceased players’ brains but is impossible to diagnose in living people.
However in upholding the terms of the settlement, judge Thomas Ambro wrote in a 69-page ruling that the deal was “imperfect but fair.”
“It is the nature of a settlement that some will be dissatisfied with the ultimate result,” wrote Ambro, describing the deal as “a testament to the players, researchers, and advocates who have worked to expose the true human costs of a sport so many love. Though not perfect, it is fair.”
The ruling comes just weeks after an NFL official addressing US lawmakers acknowledged for the first time a link between football and CTE.
The appeal decision said players suffering from symptoms of CTE would be covered by the NFL’s compensation fund.
“Compensation for players who are coping with these symptoms now is surely preferable to waiting until they die to pay their estates for a CTE diagnosis,” the court ruled.
“This settlement will provide significant and immediate relief to retired players living with the lasting scars of a NFL career, including those suffering from some of the symptoms associated with CTE. We must hesitate before rejecting that bargain based on an unsupported hope that sending the parties back to the negotiating table would lead to a better deal.”
The settlement will resolve thousands of lawsuits involving around 20,000 NFL retirees for the next 65 years.
It is estimates that some 6,000 former players, or roughly three in 10, could develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
According to Sports Illustrated, average payments to players will be around $190,000 depending on the recipients age and experience.
Players diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease can receive up to $5 million in compensation.
Family members of players diagnosed with CTE can receive up to $4million. Players suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are eligible to receive up to $3.5 million.
“We are pleased with the Third Circuit’s decision to completely uphold the District Court’s approval of the settlement,” Christopher Seeger, an attorney for the former players, said in a statement.
“This extraordinary settlement’s implementation has been delayed enough by this small group of objectors, whose arguments have been exhaustively examined and overruled by both the District Court and Third Circuit. We hope they will consider the over 20,000 retired players and their families that support this agreement before filing additional appeals that will only extend these delays further.”