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Former NFL Players Appealing Concussion Settlement

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 25, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's been a long and winding road for the NFL's concussion settlement with former players: It was a done deal. And then it wasn't enough. And then it was increased, so it was OK. But players still tried to block it, and then a bunch opted out.

Now, ten former players are asking a court to quash the settlement on behalf of players yet to be diagnosed with a brain injury. So where does the settlement go from here?

Not Good Enough

Last week was the deadline to appeal the settlement, which could include $1 billion total for ex-players with certain severe neurological diseases (up to $5 million each) along with funds for neuro-cognitive testing. An appeal lead by five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Fred Smerlas is claiming the settlement doesn't include funds for players yet to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition exhibited by many former players which could be the result of repeated head trauma.

As Reuters reported, Smerlas's wasn't the only settlement appeal coming in under the deadline -- as many as a dozen challenges involving almost 100 retired players were expected to be filed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. The NFL and those supporting the settlement agreement will have a month to respond. The issue could head to a three-judge panel as early as October, but there is no timetable for a definitive ruling.

Make It Better

The concussion lawsuit against the NFL was a class action pulling together thousands of former players, and only those that didn't opt out earlier can challenge the settlement. Those that did opt out may be able to bring their own individual claims against the NFL later.

Backing out of a settlement isn't easy, and the players will have to demonstrate that the settlement is insufficient to cover potential members of the class. In the meantime, non-objecting ex-players will have to wait on their payouts until all the appeals have been heard, which could put pressure on both sides to reach yet another settlement.

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