Judge recognizes that lack of cap is affecting concussion settlement

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As complaints continue about delays in the processing of concussion settlement payments mount, the judge who approved the deal recognizes the root of the problem.

“Let’s be very clear,” Judge Anita Brody recently said in court, via Newsday. “If it’s a capped settlement, [the NFL puts] in the money and they don’t care what happens. But the NFL has a legitimate interest, in view of the fact that it’s uncapped, to challenge any request that may be fraudulent.”

Determining what “may be fraudulent” becomes the challenge. Given the clear financial realities of the situation, the NFL has every reason to assume that every claim “may be fraudulent,” and to push and press and delay and question and otherwise resist the claim, in the hopes of defeating it (or getting the player to abandon it).

The simple fact that the NFL faces unlimited liability underscores the temptation to assume that everyone is submitting a fraudulent claim. And it invites the NFL to challenge every single claim, no matter how objectively valid each claim may be.

The lawyer who negotiated the settlement on behalf of the former players understandably defends the process, echoing the importance of ensuring that only legitimate payments are made.

“If the fraudulent claims were paid out, you’re talking more than one billion dollars,” Christopher Seeger said in court.

It’s fine to be concerned about false claims, but one man’s fraud is another man’s truth. And the truth is that the third-party administrator appointed by the court used a system for catching fraud that, according to Seeger, “surprisingly slowed down the settlement early on because it dragged hundreds of claims that were potentially fraudulent.”

Whatever the reason and whatever the outcome, an efficient and reliable system is needed to determine whether claims should be paid, with an independent process in place that takes everyone’s interests into account — and that keeps the NFL from directly or indirectly influencing the processing of each and every claim by using all available tactics and methods to delay or to block payment.

8 responses to “Judge recognizes that lack of cap is affecting concussion settlement

  1. So let me see…..

    The Average NFL Career, according to the NFLPA is 3.3 years. For arguments sake, lets assume that all NFL players played at least 2 years of high school football and 3 years of College (including a red shirt year).

    So if the NFL represents less than half of the total time they have played football (40% in the above example), how can you prove that the damage occurred because of playing in the NFL, and say – not when they were playing lower levels of football (HS) where the equipment and coaching may be subpar? Keep in mind, some of these kids have been playing football since Pop Warner when they were in elementary school.

  2. “keeps the NFL from directly or indirectly influencing the processing of each and every claim by using all available tactics and methods to delay or to block payment.”

    Well, then don’t be stupid to have those “tactics and methods” negotiated into the agreement next time. As the article pointed out, the original $765m settlement didn’t give the league the ability.

  3. Seeger fooled the players and families of deceased players into thinking this would be a simple process. I was on the conference calls and it all sounded good until claims were being denied. Over 1000 claims for dementia and only 6 have been paid out. Fraud is a issue but the review board is the problem. A qualifying diagnosis means nothing when the review board doesn’t accept it. What’s even funnier is in order to get a qualifying diagnosis you have to go to a approved physician who is on the list. Your approved Dr’s says yes, the review board says fraud.

  4. These guys knew the cost when they chose to play. It’s common sense when you continuously get concussions you are doing permanent damage to the brain. How is this the nfls fault? Seriously. It’s like a boxer trying to say he had no idea he could get facial scars for life. They were paid millions to Play a game. Hard for me to think they deserve compensation

  5. I can understand both sides, and there’s no real easy answer. It reminds me of FEMA after a big natural disaster. The first thing that happens is that you hear the victims complain that FEMA is taking too long to cut checks. And the public says “yeah! Let’s get going!” About 6mo later, you hear that FEMA paid out a few million in fraudulent claims. And the public says “WTF is FEMA doing?” You just can’t win.

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