On Tuesday, a federal judge tentatively rejected the NFL’s traumatic brain injury settlement.
She says that even with the NFL promising up to $914 million for compensation, research, and other purposes, the pact could run out of money over the six decades it’s supposed to cover. At a minimum, she wants more economic analysis proving that it’s sufficient.
Lester Munson explains what this means:
[U.S. District Court Judge Anita] Brody’s ruling is significant in two ways. First, it is an embarrassing setback for the players’ attorneys who have submitted the proposal.
These lawyers included in their proposal a request for $112 million in fees for themselves. It is difficult to imagine how the lawyers could have done $112 million in legal work and not submitted the expert reports to the judge. After spending more than four months preparing these legal papers, the player-clients now learn that the lawyers omitted critical materials from the paperwork.
Second, the rejection, even if temporary, will add to the growing skepticism among players and their personal attorneys about the settlement terms. In addition to the demand for enormous fees and delays in preparing paperwork, the judge’s concerns about the adequacy of the settlement funds will fuel player concerns that their representatives have settled for too little. It could add to the number of players who will opt out of the settlement and take their chances in the litigation process.
Marc Tracy thinks the judge made the right decision but for the wrong reason:
One leaps to agree: Yes! It’s far too small! It should be billions and billions! But while Brody indeed left herself room, in her decision, to decide that it should eventually be billions, she would not be sharing the reasoning of an observer who believes the players are not getting a fair shake. Her objection is to whether the settlement amount is consistent with the internal logic of the settlement itself. Specifically, she is concerned that the $675 million that is actually set aside to pay players—according to a complicated, tiered scheme agreed to by both sides—simply will not be enough. “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 wrote.
Is the problem that the players deserve more? No. That the NFL need not admit a scintilla of guilt, culpability, or wrongdoing? Nope. That there won’t be discovery as a result of the settlement? Nunh-unh. Even sniping among various plaintiff factions—ESPN’s Fainauru brothers have a good rundown—has been centered around the question of whether the allotted funds are enough to fulfill the settlement’s own parameters, not whether the settlement’s parameters are all wrong.
Read the whole Dish thread on this case here.