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US judge approves uncapped head injury deal for former NFL players

Lawyers for more than 4,500 retired players have accused the league of covering up the effects of hits to the head.

Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure believes he suffers from CTE, brought on by the many head blows experienced during his 13-year NFL career.
Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure believes he suffers from CTE, brought on by the many head blows experienced during his 13-year NFL career.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THOUSANDS OF EX-National Football League players are to be compensated for head-injury claims, after a US judge gave a green light to a revised settlement.

The revised deal means that more than 20,000 retired players can now vote on the settlement. Last month, the NFL agreed to pay an unlimited amount in damages to players with severe concussion-related claims after removing a $675 million cap (€497 million) on awards.

Lawyers for the more than 4,500 retired players who sued the league are accusing the NFL of a cover up regarding dangers of concussions and violent hits to the head.

Lawyers Sol Weiss and Christopher Seeger said in a statement that Monday’s decision represents “an extraordinary settlement” for the plaintiffs.

We have received overwhelming support from the retired player community as they learn more about the guaranteed benefits and long-term security this settlement provides, and we look forward to soon finalizing this agreement,” Weiss and Seeger wrote.

US District Court Judge Anita Brody wrote in her decision on Monday that her concerns over an earlier settlement were “satisfied” and that the revised deal “is a significant improvement” over the first.

Sports Brain Injuries Kevin Turner, a former Patriots NFL fullback, now suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease. Source: AP/Press Association Images

In January, Brody rejected an agreement struck last August in which the NFL agreed to pay $765 million (€564 million) to provide medical benefits and injury compensation to retired players and their families.

The new “uncapped” settlement, Brody wrote, “ensures that there are sufficient funds available to pay all claims through the 65-year term of the settlement and improves the manner in which diagnoses are made to protect against fraud.”

The settlement also sets up a $10 (€7.3 million) million fund for education programs geared to concussion prevention.

NFL senior vice president Anastasia Danias called Brody’s decision comprehensive and said the league would work with the plaintiffs to implement the terms.

The court will hold a fairness hearing later this year at which plaintiffs can air objections to the settlement.

- © AFP, 2014

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