The tentative settlement between the National Football League and 4,500 of its former players and their families in the concussion lawsuits would be a victory for the plaintiffs lawyers and the league, but it has troubling aspects from a public policy perspective. If a settlement is supposed to end a controversy, this one surely will not.
The 425-paragraph complaint filed in 2012, which alleged that the NFL concealed the long-term dangers of repeated blows to the head, told the compelling age-old tale of corporate deceit and the callous disregard for the safety of workers. Yet the $765 million settlement that awaits court approval — reached at the dawn of a new season — comes at a heavy price: no admission of liability, no discovery into what league owners knew and when they knew it, no testimony from the athletes and their families about their physical and emotional suffering, no real information for parents considering whether to let their youngsters play this dangerous game, and a return to business as usual.
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