The special master overseeing the National Football League’s concussion settlement on Monday said that more than half a billion dollars in claims have been awarded in the past year and a half, exceeding what the NFL originally estimated it would pay out over 10 years.
According to a report posted online by the special master, as of Monday 521 claims worth a total of $502 million have been awarded to retired NFL players or their families since the settlement went into effect in January 2017. In a news release, Monday, class co-lead counsel Seeger Weiss LLP said the NFL had estimated $404 million in payouts over the first 10 years of the settlement in a report submitted during the settlement approval process.
In a video released online Monday, class co-counsel Christopher Seeger called the fact such a large amount has been paid “highly significant.”
“On the one hand, it’s the sad testament to the fact that there are a lot of sick players who need this relief badly,” he said. “On the positive side, they’re finally getting it.”
He predicted the NFL will ultimately pay more than $1.5 billion over the 60-year term of the settlement.
Counsel for the NFL did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
In April 2015, the court approved an uncapped settlement ending multidistrict litigation between the National Football League and about 5,000 former players seeking damages for concussions and degenerative neurological conditions resulting from their playing days.
More than 1,900 claims have been submitted, according to the report. The report said 531 claims have been denied and that additional documentation has been requested for 375 more.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody declined a request by the NFL to appoint a special investigator to examine the claims. The league had argued an “extraordinary number of potentially fraudulent claims” have been submitted, but Judge Brody said the current screening process is working properly, although she said would appoint an investigator if the claims administrator or special master asked.
According to the report, of the claims awarded, 67 totaling more than $84.5 million were for deceased former players found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition that can only be diagnosed post-mortem. The settlement paid 157 claims totaling more than $78.1 million for Alzheimer’s disease claims and 186 claims exceeding $193 million for players claiming various degrees of cognitive impairment.
The Seeger Weiss news release also said as part of the settlement more than 6,000 baseline neurological exams have been performed on ex-players to evaluate them for brain injury.
Seeger Weiss and Anapol Weiss LLP are co-lead class counsel in the litigation.
The NFL is represented by Brad Karp, Theodore Wells Jr., Bruce Birenboim, Richard Tarlowe and Sarah Istel of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, and Sean Fahey of Pepper Hamilton LLP.
The case is In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, case number 2:12-and-02323, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.