A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims.
The ruling by US District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia came about two weeks after the NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages. Brody had previously questioned whether that would be enough money to pay all claims.
‘‘A class action settlement that offers prompt relief is superior to the likely alternative — years of expensive, difficult, and uncertain litigation, with no assurance of recovery, while retired players’ physical and mental conditions continue to deteriorate,’’ Brody wrote.
More than 4,500 former players have filed suit, some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions.
The settlement is designed to last at least 65 years and cover retirees who develop Lou Gehrig’s disease and other neurological problems.
The original settlement included $675 million for compensatory claims for players with neurological symptoms, $75 million for baseline testing, and $10 million for medical research and education. The NFL would also pay an additional $112 million to the players’ lawyers, for a total payout of more than $870 million.
The revised settlement eliminates the cap on overall damage claims but retains a payout formula for individual retirees that considers their age and illness.
A young retiree with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, would receive $5 million, a 50-year-old with Alzheimer’s disease would get $1.6 million, and an 80-year-old with early dementia would get $25,000. The settlement would be capped at $4 million on behalf of players diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after their deaths.