One of the primary skills for any lawyer is to act at all times like anything that happens was expected, if not desired. Confidence must be projected at all times, no matter how adverse the outcome.
And so it’s no surprise that the NFL and the lawyers representing the players are expressing confidence that the judge who rejected preliminary approval of the settlement will in time change her mind.
“We respect Judge Brody’s request for additional information as a step towards preliminary approval,” the NFL said in a statement. “We will work with the plaintiffs’ attorneys to supply that information promptly to the Court and Special Master. We are confident that the settlement is fair and adequate, and look forward to demonstrating that to the Court.”
“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,” said lawyer Christopher Seeger, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “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.”
Judge Anita Brody, in a 12-page ruling, expressed concern about the quality of evidence regarding the ability of the settlement fund to pay all claims that may arise in the future. It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if a recently-retired player develops a severe cognitive impairment in 40 years and there’s no money left for him or his family.
Maybe we’re missing something (as we usually do), but there’s an easy fix. If the NFL believes that the $675 million compensation fund (of the $765 million total settlement) will be sufficient to provide benefits to all retired players who eventually develop a serious cognitive impairment, why not guarantee that, if the fund ever evaporates, the NFL will provide any additional funding?
The NFL presumably is confident that, in 40 years, it’ll still be around and still be thriving. Why not bet on that confidence and promise that, if the current fund that they’re confident won’t run out does run out, the NFL will make up the difference?