NFL drops appeal over dementia claims in concussion case

The NFL abruptly dropped its plan Wednesday to challenge approved dementia diagnoses in a landmark concussion case as players’ lawyers accuse it of trying to delay payments and rewrite the $1 billion settlement.   

A federal court hearing set for Thursday on the NFL’s appeal was canceled Wednesday afternoon as the league dropped its appeal. Instead, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody issued an order requiring doctors to explain their findings in certain cases.

The NFL had asked to challenge some diagnoses made by settlement-approved doctors and upheld by a court-appointed administrator whose decisions are supposed to be final. The league nonetheless filed an appeal on the grounds that the standards used to diagnose the ex-players with dementia were not being applied consistently.

Many former players, such as the late Mike Webster (left), have been diagnosed with dementia

Many former players, such as the late Mike Webster (left), have been diagnosed with dementia

The NFL, led by commissioner Roger Goodell (pictured), had asked to challenge some diagnoses made by settlement-approved doctors and upheld by a court-appointed administrator whose decisions are supposed to be final

The NFL, led by commissioner Roger Goodell (pictured), had asked to challenge some diagnoses made by settlement-approved doctors and upheld by a court-appointed administrator whose decisions are supposed to be final

The NFL, led by commissioner Roger Goodell (right), had asked to challenge some diagnoses made by settlement-approved doctors and upheld by a court-appointed administrator whose decisions are supposed to be final. The league nonetheless filed an appeal on the grounds that the standards used to diagnose the ex-players with dementia were not being applied consistently. Many former players, such as the late Mike Webster (left), have been diagnosed 

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders

The NFL argued that it had agreed to remove a $765 million cap on payouts only in exchange for ‘a clear demarcation of the boundary between compensable and non-compensable levels of impairment.’

Some players’ lawyers said the NFL is having buyer’s remorse as the early payouts surge past early projections in the 65-year settlement.

Plan administrators have approved more than $600 million in claims, and paid out $425 million, in the first two years alone. In contrast, the NFL had thought it would take a decade to pay out the first $400 million, according to a lead players lawyer who called the league’s appeal ‘meritless.’

‘Our advocacy on behalf of former players will continue to ensure they receive every benefit under this agreement, and that the NFL pays every dollar for which they are obligated,’ the lawyer, Christopher Seeger, said in a statement Wednesday.

Messages seeking comment were left with an NFL spokesman.

Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling was suffering from dementia when he committed suicide in 2012. It is believed that dementia contributed to his decision to take his life 

Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling was suffering from dementia when he committed suicide in 2012. It is believed that dementia contributed to his decision to take his life 

Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling was suffering from dementia when he committed suicide in 2012. It is believed that dementia contributed to his decision to take his life 

Retired players can seek awards of as much as $3 million for moderate dementia and $1.5 million for mild dementia, although most men would get far less. The settlement resolves thousands of lawsuits that alleged the NFL hid what it knew about the risk of concussions in order to return players to the field.

The settlement offers retired players baseline testing and compensation for four types of illnesses — Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease; and dementia.

Several well-known former players have battled dementia, including ex-Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, longtime offensive guard Ralph Wenzel, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, and former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Gerry Sullivan. 

The settlement, which took effect January 2017, resolved thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions. 

Some of the players who have been affected by concussions include former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, who now suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre.

In 2016, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if, knowing what he has learned in recent years, would allow his son to play football.

‘I would not only want him to play football, I would certainly encourage him to do it and I would let him do it,’ he said.

About 2,000 claims have been filed in less than two years. 

Ex-Steelers and Chargers guard Ralph Wenzel suffered from dementia before his death in 2012

Ex-Steelers and Chargers guard Ralph Wenzel suffered from dementia before his death in 2012

Ex-Steelers and Chargers guard Ralph Wenzel suffered from dementia before his death in 2012

WHAT IS DEMENTIA? THE KILLER DISEASE THAT ROBS SUFFERERS OF THEIR MEMORIES

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

A GLOBAL CONCERN 

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders, that is, conditions affecting the brain.

There are many different types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

Some people may have a combination of types of dementia.

Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?

The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.

It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will rise to over 1 million.

In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.

As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.

Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.

IS THERE A CURE?

Currently there is no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted the more effective treatments are.

Source: Dementia UK 

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