NFL to Pay $765 Million in Historic Concussion Lawsuit Settlement

WSJ: The National Football League and 4,500 former players suing the league over concussion-related issues reached an agreement on a settlement Thursday. The agreement, which came as a surprise, calls for the league to pay $765 million for medical benefits and injury compensation for the retired players as well as funding for medical research and litigation expenses. The settlement is for all retired players who present medical evidence of severe cognitive impairment, not just the ones in the suit.

"Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed," said mediator Layn Phillips, a former U.S. District judge, who announced the settlement.

The agreement must be approved by Anita Brody, the federal judge in Philadelphia overseeing the case. A person familiar with the matter said the agreement should be approved. Christopher Seeger, a co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said the deal was struck at 2 a.m. Thursday.

NFL executive vice president Jeffrey Pash, who has spearheaded the case for the league, said commissioner Roger Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: to "do the right thing" for former players.

"This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we've made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players," Pash said.

The deal calls for baseline medical testing for retired players who are seeking the benefits. If a retired players' condition worsens, the deal says, he may apply for a supplemental payment. The individual medical cases will be decided by independent doctors appointed by the district court. The deal also doesn't represent the NFL acknowledging liability for the head injuries.

The retired players don't have to approve the settlement but anyone can opt out, a league spokesman said.

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