The National Football League has agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 players and their families, largely closing the legal front in the league’s battle against accusations that it concealed what it knew about the dangers of repeated hits to the head.
The settlement, announced Thursday, will be seen as a victory for the league, which has nearly $10 billion in annual revenue and faced the possibility of billions of dollars in liability payments and a discovery phase that could have proved damaging if the case had moved forward.
The league has changed its rules to make the game safer and modified its medical protocols for concussions as mounting scientific evidence in recent years linked head trauma sustained on the field to long-term cognitive damage. Among the terms of the agreement is that the settlement is not to be regarded as an admission of guilt by the league.
“The settlement seems low considering the number of claimants and the severity of their conditions, but it also shows the uphill climb in proving the league was responsible for the players’ injuries,” said Michael LeRoy, who teaches labor law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The league is keenly sensitive to its public image. It changes the conversation and really lets the air out of the publicity balloon.”
The case was widely considered a possible reckoning for the N.F.L., which has been criticized in recent years after...
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 firstname.lastname@example.org have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.
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