Attorneys representing more than 4,000 former NFL players in a proposed $765-million settlement of a concussion-related lawsuit have devised a formula for how the money will be divided.
Individual awards could reach $5 million for former players with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, and up to $4 million for a death involving brain trauma. Players who develop dementia could receive as much as $3 million.
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The formula is based on age, with maximum awards for those under 45. Individual awards also would be determined by length of service in the NFL and other medical factors. Former players with no neurological damage would get baseline testing and could seek compensation if they developed concussion-related problems later in life.
In a statement Monday, the players' lead attorneys, Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, said: "This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families -- from those who suffer with severe neuro-cognitive illnesses today, to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future.
"Both the baseline assessment and compensation programs were designed to protect retired players over the long term, ensuring that these important benefits will be available to any eligible retired player who needs them.''
The settlement must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Anita S. Brody, who helped push the former players and the NFL into settlement discussions starting in August. She plans to hold a fairness hearing this year, after which the settlement could be completed.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league "supports plaintiffs' motions and will await further direction from Judge Brody.''
Former NFL running back Kevin Turner, 44, who has ALS and is a class representative in the settlement, hailed the agreement.
"The compensation provided in this settlement will lift a heavy burden off of the men who are suffering,'' Turner said in a statement. "It will give them and their families the security and care to have the best quality of life they are able to have. This settlement is another important step for ensuring that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have.''
Former safety Shawn Wooden, 40, said: "This settlement represents peace of mind to me, and to the thousands of other retired players who do not have serious symptoms but worry about what the future may hold. We can rest easier knowing that this agreement . . . provides a safety net for those who develop severe neurological illnesses in the future.''