The National Football League’s $765 million settlement of concussion lawsuits is headed for an appeal, a move that could delay players’ access to benefits.
Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Anita Brody’s approval of the accord capped almost two years of negotiations between attorneys for the richest U.S. sports league and lawyers for players who sustained brain injuries.
More than 5,000 former players sued the league, accusing it of negligence and of failing to tell them of the connection between repeated and traumatic head impacts and long-term consequences.
A challenge to Brody’s final approval order was filed Wednesday by Green Bay Packers 1999 draft pick Chris Heimburger, an offensive lineman who played only briefly in the NFL. He and his wife previously lodged objections to the agreement, arguing it didn’t fairly credit marginal players such as himself for time spent on practice squads and in the NFL’s European league.
Players’ attorney Christopher Seeger, a proponent of the accord, cautioned after the deal was approved that any appeal would delay its implementation. He reiterated that stance today in a statement, contending the “retired player community overwhelmingly supports this agreement.”
Greg Aiello and Brian McCarthy, spokesmen for the New York-based, 32-team league, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on Heimburger’s plan to appeal.
The case is In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, 12-md-2323, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).