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Judge rejects initial $765M NFL concussion lawsuit settlement

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

When the NFL and a slew of former players reached a $765 million settlement on the concussion lawsuit in August of 2013, the primary reaction was that it was a steal for the league. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody apparently feels the same way and has rejected the initial settlement.

The AP reports from Philadelphia that Brody rejected the settlement, "fearing the sum may not be enough to cover injured players."

This is part of the process. As attorney Turner Broughton told CBSSports.com following the initial settlement, this hearing before Judge Brody wasn't just to "rubber-stamp" the settlement. Brody has to "look at and it has to analyze whether the settlement is fair and reasonable and meets those factors."

Clearly Brody didn't feel that way. Brody is "primarily concerned" that the retired players covered in the lawsuit wouldn't be.

"I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their (families) ... will be paid," Brody wrote in an opinion she filed on Tuesday morning.

None of this means the settlement is off, however. There are tweaks that can be made and, as Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs said in a statement, "analysis from economists, acutaries and medical experts" will prove that the settlement will take care of the players in question.

"We are confident that the settlement will be approved after the Court conducts its due diligence on the fairness and adequacy of the proposed agreement," Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "Analysis from economists, actuaries and medical experts will confirm that the programs established by the settlement will be sufficiently funded to meet their obligations for all eligible retired players. We look forward to working with the Court and Special Master to address their concerns, as they rightfully ensure all class members are protected.

"We believe this is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families, and have received overwhelming support as they have learned about its benefits. We look forward to finalizing this agreement so they can soon begin taking advantage of its benefits."

Florida-based lawyer Sia Nejad, who specializes in insurance defense, says this rejection is a matter of wanting the NFL to "show its work."

"At this point, it seems that Judge Brody is doubting that the $765 million is sufficient to cover the players and that some of the parameters to qualify for portions of the settlement monies are too narrow or restrictive. Bottom line, she wants the lawyers to 'show their work' because she's doubting the fairness of the agreement."

More than 4,800 former players have filed suit, including Jim McMahon, Andre Reed, John Randle, Eric Allen and Bruce Smith.

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