Chicago, IL -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/13/2013 -- A settlement has been reached between the NFL and former players over brain injuries.
In the settlement, the National Football League agreed to fund $765 million worth of concussion-related compensation, medical exams and research for the retired NFL players and litigation expenses, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
“This settlement will help former players and their families, and fund research into traumatic brain injuries,” said Paul Greenberg, a Chicago brain injury attorney not involved in the case.
The case involved more than 4,500 plaintiffs, including 245 former Chicago Bears players. The issue of NFL brain injuries was thrown into sharp relief in February 2011 when former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson committed suicide with a gunshot to the chest, saying that he wanted his brain to be used for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, one of the neurodegenerative diseases linked to brain injuries.
Kevin Turner, a former NFL player who suffers from ALS, said that the settlement would bring help for those who are hurting, and that it meant that the NFL was standing up for former players who have suffered brain injuries.
The lawsuit centered on allegations that the NFL was deliberately spreading misinformation about brain injuries through its Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, including ignoring scientific data about the risk of concussions.
The plaintiffs alleged that NFL actions—including promoting studies that showed no link between concussions and long-term brain injuries—led to players being misinformed about the risks they were taking in playing football with the league.
Tia McNeill, the ex-wife of Fred McNeill, a former Minnesota Vikings player with symptoms of early dementia, said that she believed that the lawsuit was settled quickly because the NFL was afraid of what would be revealed in the discovery phase of the case.
Because the case settled before the discovery phase, there is no way to know what the NFL knew or did not know about the risks players faced. The NFL has recently strengthened player conduct rules intended to reduce injuries, but critics have said that these steps should have been taken years ago.
Tia McNeill said that her ex-husband may not fully comprehend the impact of the settlement, due to his early dementia.
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