Pittsburgh, PA: A landmark settlement has been reached between 4,500 former football players, their families and the National Football League (NFL) this week, ending a deceptive business practices class action focusing on the impact of concussions on the brain.
"It's been a struggle to get to this point, but today I will say I'm very proud that the NFL has decided to stand up for all the former players who are suffering from brain injuries," Kevin Turner, a former NFL running back who has been diagnosed with ALS, said during a teleconference. "Today is so important for those who are ... hurting. This will bring help for them today."
The settlement, according to reports from CNN.com requires the NFL to pay $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses.
The settlement, filed in US District Court in Philadelphia, is pending final court approval.
former U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips, the mediator in the lawsuit, called the settlement "a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football."
"My hope is that any players or ex-players that are suffering, or begin to suffer, from symptoms of dementia, will be taken care of in a respectable manner through this settlement," said Chris Dronett, one of the plaintiffs, whose husband Shane Dronett committed suicide in 2009 at age 38. Scientists found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in Shane's brain after his death, CNN.com reported.
The lawsuit alleged that the NFL led a deliberate misinformation campaign -- primarily through its Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee -- to deny scientific data being presented in the medical community about health risks associated with concussion. And, the lawsuit claimed, that misinformation, trickled down to players so that they were unaware of the real nature of the risks they were taking while playing football.
Included in the settlement is the establishment of a $675 million fund to compensate players who have suffered brain injury, or their families; a maximum of $75 million for retired players' medical exams, which could be used to diagnose future neurodegenerative disease; and $10 million devoted to research and education. The funds will be dispersed over the next 20 years.