Excerpts from the 3-0 federal appeals court ruling that upheld a potential $1 billion plan by the NFL to settle thousands of concussion lawsuits filed by former players:
ON NFL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF A LINK BETWEEN FOOTBALL AND CTE, CHRONIC TRAUMATIC ENCEPHALOPATHY
"The NFL's statement is an important development because it is the first time, as far as we can tell, that the NFL has publicly acknowledged a connection between football and CTE. On the other hand, the NFL is now conceding something already known. The sheer number of deceased players with a post-mortem diagnosis of CTE supports the unavoidable conclusion that there is a relationship, if not a causal connection, between a life in football and CTE.
"Objectors cite the NFL's concession as further evidence that this settlement should be rejected. They argue that the NFL has now admitted there is a link between football and CTE, yet refused to compensate the disease. Again, we note that the settlement does compensate many of the impairments associated with CTE, though it does not compensate CTE as a diagnosis (with the exception of players who died before final approval of the settlement).
"Moreover, even if the NFL has finally come around to the view that there is a link between CTE and football, many more questions must be answered before we could say that the failure to compensate the diagnosis was unreasonable. For example, we still cannot reliably determine the prevalence, symptoms, or risk factors of CTE. The NFL's recent acknowledgment may very well advance the public discussion of the risks of contact sports, but it did not advance the science. Accordingly, the NFL's statement is not a ground for reversal of the settlement's approval."
ON THE BENEFITS OF THE OVERALL SETTLEMENT
"This settlement will provide significant and immediate relief to retired players living with the lasting scars of a NFL career, including those suffering from some of the symptoms associated with CTE. We must hesitate before rejecting that bargain based on an unsupported hope that sending the parties back to the negotiating table would lead to a better deal. Accordingly, we conclude that the settlement's treatment of CTE does not render the agreement fundamentally unfair.
"It is the nature of a settlement that some will be dissatisfied with the ultimate result. Our case is no different, and we do not doubt that objectors are well-intentioned in making thoughtful arguments against certification of the class and approval of this settlement. They aim to ensure that the claims of retired players are not given up in exchange for anything less than a generous settlement agreement negotiated by very able representatives. But they risk making the perfect the enemy of the good. This settlement will provide nearly $1 billion in value to the class of retired players. It is a testament to the players, researchers, and advocates who have worked to expose the true human costs of a sport so many love. Though not perfect, it is fair."