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September 2013

NFL, Retired Players Resolve Concussion Litigation; Court-Appointed Mediator Hails “Historic” Agreement

The Hampton Roads Messenger

Millions Face Cuts in Food Assistance


Former United States District

Judge Layn Phillips, the court-ap- pointed mediator in the consolidated concussion-related lawsuits brought by more than 4,500 retired football players against the National Football League and others, announced that the parties had reached an agreement that would end the litigation against the NFL and NFL Properties and provide medical and other benefits, as well as compensation, to qualifying injured players or their families.

The agreement came after nearly

two months of intensive negotiations under the supervision of Judge Phillips. It will be submitted for approval to United States District Judge Anita B. Brody, who is presiding over these cases in federal court in Philadelphia.

Under the agreement, the NFL

and NFL Properties will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL football players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses. Attorneys’ fees, to be approved by the district court, will be paid in addition to the settlement amount.

“This is a historic agreement,

one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” said Judge Phillips. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed. I am deeply grateful to Judge Brody for appointing me as mediator and offering me the opportunity to work on such an important and interesting matter.”

“This agreement lets us help those

who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players. Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it,” said NFL Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash. “We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation. This is an important step that builds on the significant changes

we’ve made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players.”

“This is an extraordinary

agreement that will provide immediate care and support to retired players and their families,” said lead plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Seeger of Seeger Weiss LLP. “This agreement will get help quickly to the men who suffered neurological injuries. It will do so faster and at far less cost, both financially and emotionally, than could have ever been accomplished by continuing to litigate.”

“The benefits in this agreement

will make a difference not only for me and my family, but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. Turner, who has been diagnosed with ALS, will serve as the lead plaintiff for one group of retired players. “I am grateful that the NFL is making a commitment to the men who made the game what it is today.”

Once final documentation is

completed, the settlement will be filed with Judge Brody, who will then schedule a hearing to consider whether to grant preliminary approval to the agreement. If the settlement receives preliminary approval, Judge Brody will direct the parties to distribute notice to the retired players. After giving retired players an opportunity to file objections to the settlement, Judge Brody will hold a hearing to consider whether to grant final approval. Judge Brody is expected to issue the precise schedule within a few weeks.

“Approval of the settlement will

require Judge Brody to determine that it is fair, reasonable, and adequate in light of the claims and defenses, and the expense, uncertainty and time inherent in litigating the claims, particularly given the benefits provided by the agreement,” said Judge Phillips. “There is no question that this settlement will provide benefits much sooner, and at much less cost, for many more retirees, than would have been achieved through extended litigation. For these and other reasons, I will strongly endorse this settlement in my report to Judge Brody.”

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Mich. -- In Michigan, 1.8 million people will see a cut in their food assistance benefits this fall, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps — is set to expire, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

All of the more than 47 million

Americans, including 22 million children, who receive SNAP will see their food assistance reduced, when a modest boost in benefits to SNAP recipients, which policymakers included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to strengthen the economy and ease hardship, expires on Oct. 31.

For a family of three, that cut will

mean a reduction of $29 a month—$319 for the remaining 11 months of the fiscal year.

This is a serious loss for families

whose benefits, after this cut, will average less than $1.40 per person, per meal. “So many struggling families in Michigan have been helped by this small increase in food assistance benefits at a time when we faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” stated Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“This modest assistance is a lifeline

to many families with breadwinners, who are struggling to find work, or are working at jobs that do not pay them enough to put food on the table.”

In addition to helping feed hungry

families, SNAP is one of the fastest, most effective, ways to stimulate a struggling economy. Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

The across-the-board cuts, scheduled for November, will reduce


the program by $5 billion in fiscal year 2014 alone.

In Michigan, it will mean an

estimated loss of $183 million in benefits. Cuts of that magnitude will have a significant impact on low-income families. It will be the first time SNAP reductions impact all participants, including 22 million children nationwide.

Kareemah El-Amin, executive

director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan, said nearly 24 percent of Michigan children are food insecure.

On top of these across-the-board

cuts to the program, the U.S. House of Representatives recently defeated legislation that would have cut $20 billion from SNAP, eliminating food assistance for nearly 2 million people.

That legislation would have

provided strong financial incentives to states to reduce their caseloads. This could leave many families and their children without assistance to put food on the table when they need it most. The House is considering, and could vote on, even deeper cuts to the program in the coming weeks.

“Most of the people on the Food

Assistance Program are either unable to work, or are already working,” said Terri Stangl, executive director of the Center for Civil Justice, which operates a Food and Nutrition Program helpline. “The program is doing what it was designed to do: Meet a temporary need when families are struggling, because someone is laid off, or offered fewer hours of work. Now is not the time to reduce this modest source of help with something as basic as food.”

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City Council meetings... Norfolk - regular meetings are held on the first and fourth Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. and the second and third Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Chesapeake - regular meetings are held on the second, third and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

Newport News - regular business meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 7:00 p.m.

Suffolk - regular meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m.

Hampton - typically take place on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m.

Virginia Beach - meets on the first four Tuesdays of each month. In July the meetings are scheduled on the first two Tuesdays only. Formal session begins at 6 p.m.

Portsmouth - meeting dates are the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m.

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