(Reuters) – The National Football League and thousands of former football players who have sued the league for allegedly hiding the dangers of brain injury while profiting from the sport’s violence have been ordered to try to resolve the case in mediation.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia federal court, who is overseeing the litigation, on Monday ordered both sides to meet with mediator Layn Phillips, a retired federal judge, in an effort to settle the dispute.
In the brief order, Brody said she would hold off on ruling on the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case until September 3 to give the two sides an opportunity to make progress.
More than 4,000 players have accused the league of glorifying football’s ferocity while concealing the risks of concussions and long-term brain damage as a result of repeated hits to the head.
The league has said it disclosed what information it had regarding research into brain trauma. It has also argued that the lawsuit is inappropriate because the issue of player safety is governed by the collective bargaining agreements negotiated between the league and the players’ union.
Phillips, currently a partner in the California law firm Irell & Manella, served four years as a federal judge in Oklahoma City.
The case is In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 12-2323.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)