Lawyers for NFL and some players defend concussion deal

Wed Nov 19, 2014 6:16pm EST
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By Daniel Kelley

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Lawyers for the NFL and a class of retired players defended a proposed multimillion-dollar settlement for concussions sustained while playing football during a court hearing on Wednesday, while critics called the deal inadequate.

Most of the 20,000 former players involved in the class-action lawsuit back the deal, which provides payments of up to $5 million to those with the most serious neurological impairments.

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, who granted preliminary approval to the deal in June after the National Football League agreed to remove a $675 million cap on payments, presided over the daylong hearing and will decide if the settlement is fair.

Brody can approve the deal, demand revisions, or reject it, which would require the lawyers to rework it from a blank slate.

Brad Karp, a lawyer representing the NFL, said the settlement provided prompt payments to players while avoiding costly litigation that could last years and might leave players empty-handed.

"The league could have fought these claims, in my view, for many, many years," Karp said.

The deal has its critics, in part, over how it treats players with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, one of the most common neurological disorders suffered by football players.

The proposed settlement calls for the NFL to pay $4 million to the families of those who died from CTE before July 7, 2014. Those diagnosed afterward would receive nothing.   Continued...

A football helmet's health warning sticker is pictured between a U.S. flag and the number 55, in memory of former NFL player Junior Seau in Oceanside, California September 14, 2012.   REUTERS/Mike Blake