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Federal judge holds off decision on NFL concussion settlement

Alzheimer's DiseaseSan Francisco 49ers

A federal judge in Philadelphia declined Wednesday to approve a proposed $765-million concussion settlement between the NFL and a group of retired players.

[UPDATED, 4:30 p.m. PDT, April 16: Although this was originally characterized as a setback for those pushing for a concussion settlement, attorneys for the plaintiffs clarified Wednesday afternoon that U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody’s ruling was more of a procedural housekeeping item.

The ruling was submitted electronically late Tuesday and was announced Wednesday.

“The Court’s April 15 order is administrative in nature and the status of the litigation remains unchanged,” co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss said in a written statement. “We continue to work at the direction of the Court and Special Master as they review the settlement agreement and rightfully ensure that all members of the class are protected. We look forward to finalizing this agreement so that former players can soon begin taking advantage of its benefits.”]

Brody issued a preliminary ruling, just as she did in January, asking for more details to support claims that the proposed fund is large enough. The settlement, which would be paid over a 20-year period, is intended to cover the related medical expenses of those who may suffer lasting neurological damage because of their playing careers. The settlement would cover a group that could top 20,000 players, whether they had sued the league or not, and is designed to last for 65 years.

The deal calls for payouts of as much as $5 million for players suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease; as much as $4 million to the families of brain-damaged athletes who committed suicide; up to $3 million for cases of dementia; and various smaller amounts for less serious  ailments. Players with milder forms of dementia may receive treatment but not payouts.

Brody is expected to oversee hearings in the case later this year.

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