In the News: Layn Phillips (BS '74, JD '77) serves as mediator in landmark NFL concussion case
Thursday, August 29, 2013
The Honorable Layn Phillips (BS '74, JD '77) served as the court-appointed mediator for the high-profile sports law case.
Alternative Dispute Resolution Center
August 29, 2013
NFL, retired players resolve concussion litigation; Court-appointed mediator hails "historic" agreement
Thousands of Retirees and Families to Benefit Medical Testing; Research Compensation and Promotion of Safety All Part of Agreement
Former United States District Judge Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator in the consolidated concussion-related lawsuits brought by more than 4,500 retired football players against the National Football League and others, announced today that the parties had reached an agreement that would end the litigation against the NFL and NFL Properties and provide medical and other benefits, as well as compensation, to qualifying injured players or their families.
The agreement came after nearly two months of intensive negotiations under the supervision of Judge Phillips. It will be submitted for approval to United States District Judge Anita B. Brody, who is presiding over these cases in federal court in Philadelphia. Under the agreement, the NFL and NFL Properties will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL football players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses. Attorneys’ fees, to be approved by the district court, will be paid in addition to the settlement amount.
“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” said Judge Phillips. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed. I am deeply grateful to Judge Brody for appointing me as mediator and offering me the opportunity to work on such an important and interesting matter.”
“This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players. Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it,” said NFL Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash. “We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation. This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we’ve made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players.”
“This is an extraordinary agreement that will provide immediate care and support to retired players and their families,” said lead plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP. “This agreement will get help quickly to the men who suffered neurological injuries. It will do so faster and at far less cost, both financially and emotionally, than could have ever been accomplished by continuing to litigate.”
“The benefits in this agreement will make a difference not only for me and my family, but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. Turner, who has been diagnosed with ALS, will serve as the lead plaintiff for one group of retired players. “I am grateful that the NFL is making a commitment to the men who made the game what it is today.”
Once final documentation is completed, the settlement will be filed with Judge Brody, who will then schedule a hearing to consider whether to grant preliminary approval to the agreement. If the settlement receives preliminary approval, Judge Brody will direct the parties to distribute notice to the retired players. After giving retired players an opportunity to file objections to the settlement, Judge Brody will hold a hearing to consider whether to grant final approval. Judge Brody is expected to issue the precise schedule within a few weeks.
“Approval of the settlement will require Judge Brody to determine that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate in light of the claims and defenses, and the expense, uncertainty and time inherent in litigating the claims, particularly given the benefits provided by the agreement,” said Judge Phillips. “There is no question that this settlement will provide benefits much sooner, and at much less cost, for many more retirees, than would have been achieved through extended litigation. For these and other reasons, I will strongly endorse this settlement in my report to Judge Brody.”
Read full press release (PDF)
Read New York Times article