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NFL judge: Lawyers for black players may get involved in mediation


The federal judge presiding over the NFL’s $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims has invited attorneys for black players who call a racially biased settlement to join mediation on the issue.

PHILADELPHIA — The federal judge presiding over the $1 billion settlement of the NFL’s brain injury claims on Thursday invited attorneys for black players, who decriminalized discrimination, to join court-led mediation on the issue. it is said.

Lawyers have challenged the use of a “race-standard” settlement in dementia trials since 2018. The practice assumes that black players start out with low cognitive skills and make it difficult for them to show injury and receive rewards from settlement funds.

The judge’s order comes a day after the NFL issued a public pledge to skip practice and review the scores of retired players who believe race-based adjustments have deprived them of dementia settlements that average $ 500,000 or more. News coverage of the NFL’s turnabout first elicited a degree of outrage online from people angered by league-sanctioned race-norming.

In some cases, the NFL insisted, appealing the award if doctors did not adjust scores for race under the binary black and non-black scoring system developed in medicine in the early 1990s.

“It’s humiliating, very humiliating, even running for it,” Detroit Lions assistant head coach Deuce Staley, a former NFL running back, said Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters. “Now, the NFL is correcting itself.”

Former Steelers Kevin Henry and Nazeh Davenport said in a civil rights lawsuit filed last year that they were denied the award but would have been eligible if they were white. Senior US District Judge Anita B. Brody dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds in March. But as the demand for racial justice in America intensifies, and as she completes 10 years overseeing an NFL concussion case, the 86-year-old judge issued the latter two orders, saying the practice haunts her.

First, he ordered counsel for the NFL and key players to mediate the race-standard issue with the help of a diverse panel of medical experts. Now she’s making black players’ lawyers sit at their negotiating table.

Brody wrote in Thursday’s order, “As the court learned from the media, the NFL has committed to eliminating racial norms from the settlement and replacing them with a new set of norms, which are ‘prospectively and retrospectively applied’.” Will be done.” She said that Henry and Davenport’s attorneys “have presented research on the fair use of criteria, and they may have information that would be useful for arbitration.”

Those lawyers did not immediately comment on the judge’s order. He had sought the right to intervene several months ago. Seeger, whom Brody named class counsel in the case, opposed his offer to intervene in March, saying he saw no evidence of any caste bias in the fund’s administration. On Wednesday, he apologized, saying he saw the problem more clearly now and hoped to regain the trust of black players.

The NFL said in its statement Wednesday that the breed criteria were developed in neuropsychology for philanthropic reasons, “to prevent bias in testing, not to eliminate it.” But critics call them outdated and say they were never used to assess legal damages.

The 2013 settlement ended thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of long-disguising what it knew about the link between sprains and traumatic brain injury.

——— AP Sportswriter Larry Ledge contributed to this report from Allen Park, Michigan.

——— Follow MarieClairedale on Twitter https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale

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