A federal appeals court Monday upheld a settlement that calls for monetary rewards estimated to reach nearly $1 billion for many former NFL players who have suffered concussions playing professional football and enhanced medical testing for current and future ones.
"Though not perfect, it is fair," a three-judge panel for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said in its ruling.
Initial settlement terms were approved a year ago by District Judge Anita Brody, but a small group of objectors appealed, upset the deal didn't offer payments specifically associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease resulting from repetitive brain trauma. CTE has been found in the brains of several former football players after their deaths.
Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the large group of former players, said large settlements aren't usually perfect.
"But it's really good," he said, "and it's fair and it's adequate."
The former players opposed to the settlement must decide whether to take the matter to the Supreme Court (within 90 days) or to a full panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia (within two weeks). Otherwise former players already diagnosed with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions could start getting benefits within 3-4 months, a plaintiffs' attorney said.
"We are disappointed with the court's decision," Steven Molo, lead counsel for the objectors, said in a statement.
Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote Monday's ruling on behalf of the three-judge panel. The panel said it was hesitant to reject the deal "based on an unsupported hope that sending the parties back to the negotiating table would lead to a better deal."
Bears: Former Boca Ciega High standout Josh Bellamy, a wide receiver and special teams standout, signed his exclusive rights tender.
Cardinals: They re-signed safety Tony Jefferson, wide receiver Jaron Brown and safety D.J. Swearinger and released defensive tackle Cory Redding.
Chiefs: Commissioner Roger Goodell denied their appeal of anti-tampering violations, so Kansas City will forfeit its third-round draft pick this year and sixth-round pick next year. The club had its fine reduced from $250,000 to $200,000. The punishment stems from the team's contact with then-free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin when it was prohibited.
Dolphins: Defensive tackle Chris Jones was claimed off waivers after missing last season because of an injury. Jones started for the Patriots in 2013 and 2014.
Jaguars: Safety Sergio Brown was released. He was due to make $2.25 million in 2016.
Rams: Quarterback Case Keenum signed his restricted free agent tender.
Texans: They were set to release former USF quarterback B.J. Daniels, the Houston Chronicle reported.