A federal judge has rejected the landmark medical settlement reached in August between the National Football League and more than 4,000 former football players.
Judge Anita Brody's ruling Tuesday found there was not enough evidence presented to convince her that the $765 million payment the two sides agreed upon will be enough to cover the players' collective expenses for injuries and medical conditions resulting from football-related injuries, including ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease, among many others.
"I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid," Brody wrote. "In light of my duty to protect the rights of all potential class members and the insufficiency of the current record, I will deny the motion without prejudice."
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The settlement established fixed caps on payments for certain conditions. Those players diagnosed with Parkinson's, for example, would receive a maximum of $3.5 million; those with ALS, up to $5 million. But those figures bothered Brody, who didn't see enough accounting to convince her those amounts were precisely calculated to ensure they'd be sufficient.
"It is difficult to see how the monetary award fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants at these significant award levels," she observed.
However, her ruling doesn't mean the deal is off. As a first step toward approving the settlement, Brody has asked the two sides to provide the requested documentation to support the payment totals.
"There is nothing to indicate that the settlement is not the result of good faith, arm’s-length negotiations between adversaries," Brody wrote. "Nonetheless, on the basis of the present record, I am not yet satisfied that the settlement has no obvious deficiencies, grants no preferential treatment to segments of the class, and falls within the range of possible approval."
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