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Years After Settlement, NFL Payments From Concussion Lawsuit Finally Begin

You may recall reading on here years ago that there was a settlement reached in a concussion lawsuit brought forth against the NFL that would result in the estates of deceased players whose deaths were linked to diagnoses of chronic traumatic encephalopathy and related issues would be financially compensated by the league as a result.

I have written about it through the years, including an April 2015 article in which I noted that a judge granted final approval for the settlement after it had already undergone a number of hurdles. The most significant alteration of the settlement in the final version was that it lifted a cap that had been put on the total amount that the NFL would be responsible for paying out, which sat at $765 million.

Flash forward several years later, and we learn that payments have finally begun to trickle out, with the first two coming earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, the estates of two former NFL players, who were not named, received a total of $9 million between them. According to the AP, a $5 million payout was paid for a diagnosis of ALS, and a $4 million payout for a diagnosis of CTE.

The articles also notes that the reflected payout indicates that the players had at least five years of NFL experience and that their diagnoses came prior to their 45th birthday, which obviously strongly suggests that there is a hard and fast guidelines for how payments would be dispensed. The total process for these players took roughly three months.

As the research currently stands, a diagnosis of CTE cannot be verified without opening the brain for analysis, which obviously means that in order for a player’s estate to be eligible for a payout due to CTE, that player must be deceased.

It is worth noting that this settlement will virtually be in effect in perpetuity, and as part of the arrangement, both parties are to reconvene every 10 years to confer in good faith. It is possible that with further research into CTE, a breakthrough diagnosis in living individuals could come about, and could in turn result in surviving players with CTE receiving compensation during their lifetime.

For the time being, however, that is not the case, so even though we can see the signs that we have seen in others who have died whose brains were riddled with the injuries and markings of CTE, it will mean nothing until it can be conclusively verified in the living brain.

Even that won’t be so easy, of course, and, quite frankly, it is the one area in which Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, due to his legal background, excels, and he explained the issues well in an April 2015 article on his website that essentially boils down to the attorneys on either side of the table lacking the financial motivation to fight for it.

The lead plaintiff in the original lawsuit was Kevin Turner, a fullback for the Patriots and Eagles. He passed away last year at the age of 46, diagnosed while living with ALS, and a postmortem revealing that he suffered from CTE. It was determined that the CTE triggered the ALS.

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