U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of NFL concussion claims.
Judge Brody fears that the settlement may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. This is a refreshing amount of skepticism being exhibited by the Court. The Court will no doubt want to also take a close look at how the figures were calculated, including the claim for $100 million in attorney fees.
Many former NFL players had expressed concern that the settlement wasn't enough: to that end, more transparency can be nothing but beneficial. This is a step closer to ensuring that there's fair compensation for these injured former professional athletes.
So why are we discussing this news item here on the Washington Product Liability Blog? Well, it's important for us to discuss this timely topic for a number of reasons. First, this is a mass injury litigation, something we cover on this blog and something that our law firm Schroeter Goldmark and Bender handles. Second, although the lawsuit here is between the NFL and former players, there's a product element at play here: Are football helmets sufficient to protect players from the types of violent hits the game allows today? The answer is that they are obviously not. Football is a sport near and dear to my heart - I played it in high school and college. But it's going to have to change - the rules will need to be changed, the equipment may need to evolve, and the culture will need to change.
We'll be turning at a later date to the Frontline program that has recently come out, League of Denial.
For now, we should all celebrate the good caution that the Court is taking here to make sure that this settlement is sufficient, is transparent, and is appropriate.