JOHN: No deal, that’s the word today from a federal judge to the NFL. The judge has rejected the 765 million dollars settlement of the league’s Concussion lawsuit. Michael Eaves is here update of the details. No deal? MICHAEL EAVES: No deal as… JOHN: They had a deal! MICHAEL EAVES: They had a deal but no deal as of right now but that could change. Let me explain. It was the largest sports related settlement in history, but the NFL may actually end up paying even more than that original record braking settlement. US district judge Anita Brody rejected the preliminary approval to, they say in part: “I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their families…will be paid”. Joining me now sports-law attorney Ted Corless from the Corless Barfield Trial Group. Ted, we appreciate the time. TED CORLESS: My pleasure. MICHAEL EAVES: Layn Phillips, a former federal judge from California was originally appointed by judge Brody to lead the settlement negotiations and, at the time, he called the 765 million dollar settlement a fair deal when it was announced last August. Why then would judge Brody come behind him and reject it? TED CORLESS: His job was to love the settlement. He was hired to produce the best settlement he could between the parties that were negotiating. The judge’s job is entirely different. From the judge’s perspective she has to look out for the people that weren’t able to participate in the negotiations. In this particular case we’re talking about as many as 20.000 plaintiffs. The negotiations were essentially on behalf of one plaintiff between the parties, but here we’re talking about the 19.999 other people that judge Brody is attempting to correct. MICHAEL EAVES: These payment were supposed to last for 65 years, at least that was the design. In the wake of today’s ruling Ted, what’s the next step for both the retired players as well as the NFL? TED CORLESS: They’re going to go back to the drawing board and get a deal sometime this year. The problem that the judge had was not necessarily with the amount of money that was going to be paid to the individual players. Instead, the judge was concerned, that based upon the economic models that it had been produced, if more than 10% of the claimants of the 20.000 people, 10% of that, hit the 5 million dollar number, there is a real possibility that 765 million dollars was simply not going to be enough. MICHAEL EAVES: Well, like all class action lawsuits, people can either decide to join the suit or file their own individual lawsuits. We’ve already seen some examples of that in the wake of the original announcement back in August. How do you think today’s ruling will affect that splintering, if you will? TED CORLESS: I think a lot of people, if they were interested of going out on their own, which in this situation would be an extraordinary task for any lawyer or for any party, especially parties that have been injured in the way that they have been. You’ll see a deal come back where the court is going to get the additional evidence that they need to be comfortable with the settlement or you’re going to see the number go up dramatically. As we talked about before, 765 million dollars with an annual revenue to the NFL of ten billion dollars barely registers. They need to put more money out. MICHAEL EAVES: Yeah, I think a lot of people felt that way even though that record amount of 765 was so substantial. Let me ask you this then, let’s put all the scenarios on the table. What’s a greater likelihood? Judge Brody will later approve this 765 million dollars settlement after reviewing some supporting documentation from both sides, a new settlement will be reached by the NFL paying out even more money, maybe reaching a billion dollars or will this lawsuit eventually end up in trial? TED CORLESS: The possibility of trialing a case like this is almost impossible. You’re talking about a number of parties, 20.000 parties, you’re talking about legions of lawyers cost that would be measured in the tens of millions of dollars. It’s in the best interest of the NFL as well as the 20.000 plaintiffs to reach a deal that resolves the concerns that judge Brody raised in her order. MICHAEL EAVES: Ted Corless from the Corless Barfield Trial Group in Tampa. Thanks for the time and insight as always, Ted. TED CORLESS: Thank you very much. MICHAEL EAVES: So again, John, 765 million dollars sounds like a lot but if you’re trying to cover 20.000 potential plaintiffs over the course of 65 years, that’s not enough. So, a lot of legal [inaudible 04:12] in addition to Ted belief that number will probably get to more like a billion dollars for all parties to be satisfied. JOHN: Alright, Michael Eaves, thank you very much.
December 22, 2016