(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday refused to accept a proposed settlement between the National Football League and thousands of retired players over concussions, saying some changes were needed before she would approve it.
Ruling one day after the Super Bowl, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia said the accord should expand payment eligibility for some players and families.
Among the changes she wants is an assurance that retired players who died of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy after she granted preliminary approval of the accord last July 7 should be covered.
The NFL had agreed to pay $4 million each to families of former players who died from CTE before July 7, but nothing to those diagnosed afterward.
Brody also said the settlement should provide for some credit for play in the World League of American Football, the NFL Europe League, and the NFL Europa League, and allow for testing of more players “regardless of funding limitations” in the agreement.
The judge said the modifications would “enhance the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy” of the settlement.
She ordered lawyers for the NFL and the players by Feb. 13 to propose amending the settlement to address her concerns, or explain why they cannot.
Brody had granted preliminary approval for the settlement in July after the NFL agreed to remove a $765 million cap on payments.
Most of the 20,000 former players involved in the class-action lawsuit back the deal, which provides payments of up to $5 million to those with the most serious neurological impairments.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington