The N.F.L. has made an open-ended commitment to pay cash awards to retirees who suffer from dementia and other diseases linked to repeated head hits, according to documents filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
The guarantee is part of a revised settlement in the contentious lawsuit filed by about 5,000 retired players who accused the league of hiding from them the dangers of concussions.
In August, the league agreed to pay $765 million to settle the suit with the retired players, with $680 million of that amount set aside for cash awards. But Judge Anita B. Brody rejected the proposal in January because she said she doubted whether there would be enough money to cover all the claims over the 65-year life of the settlement.
Lawyers for the league and the plaintiffs spent the past six months revising the settlement. If the judge approves the new version in the coming weeks, it will be sent to all 18,000 retired players and their beneficiaries, who can then approve the settlement, object or opt out of it. The results of that vote are unlikely to be known for at least several months, and no players will be paid until all appeals are exhausted.
The league’s new promise to compensate all qualified claims could convince retirees who said they would opt out of the original settlement because they felt the league could have set aside more money for players with serious neurological disorders.
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