Seven retired National Football League players are appealing a recent settlement between the league and about 5,000 former players stemming from a lawsuit over concussions suffered on the field, court records show.
The appeal, filed in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, came about two weeks after U.S. District Judge Anita Brody granted preliminary approval to a settlement that removed a $675 million cap on awards to former players who were part of the groundbreaking head injury lawsuit. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say 20,000 retired players could be covered under the agreement.
The players filing the appeal said the settlement did not offer enough to those who had yet to see the worst of their symptoms appear, and did not cover all diagnoses suffered by players with head trauma.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE, a degenerative disease brought on by repeated head trauma, is one of the most common brain disorders affecting former players, the appeal states.
The filing is unusual, partly because retired players who have joined the lawsuit were scheduled to vote on the settlement in November. The seven players – Roderick Cartwright, Sean Considine, Alan Faneca, Ben Hamilton, Sean Morey, Jeff Rohrer, and Robert Royal - say that appealing the settlement after final approval would be a costly waste of time.
Under the terms reached between the NFL and the former players who brought the suit, payments of up to $5 million will be guaranteed to any retired player who develops certain neurological illnesses.
Payments will be based on a formula that considers years played in the league and age at diagnosis. The fund is set to last 65 years from the date it is authorized.
A growing body of academic research shows collisions on the field can lead to CTE, which can lead to aggression and dementia.
The research has already prompted the NFL to make changes, including banning the most dangerous helmet-to-helmet hits and requiring teams to keep players who have taken hits to the head off the field if they show symptoms including dizziness and memory gaps.
(Reporting by Daniel Kelley in Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Peter Cooney)