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Lawyers representing former NFL players estimated Wednesday that payouts from the concussion settlement with the league will top $1.4 billion [url=]Bobby Massie Jersey[/url] , a $400 million jump because of thousands more players filing claims.

The number of players who filed to be a part of the settlement is outpacing all previous estimates and could keep growing, the lawyers said in a federal court filing based on estimates from an actuary. The estimate accounts for players who have filed claims and those who have officially given notice that they intend to file claims.

The actuary said participation rates are 21 percent higher than estimated when the settlement was reached. As of July 16, 499 claims totaling more than $485 million had been approved, according to the filing.

The massive increase in estimated payout came the same day a judge denied a request from the league to appoint a special investigator to look into what the league said are extensive fraudulent claims against the settlement fund.

Judge Anita Brody wrote in her federal court ruling that the league's attorneys had demonstrated that there is "sufficient evidence of probable fraud to warrant serious concern." But Brody said a special master and a claims administrator have effectively ferreted out those claims for now.

"The audit process is working effectively," Brody wrote in her deferral ruling, saying if the claims administrator or special master notify the court an investigator is needed [url=]Ryan Kelly Jersey[/url] , "the Court will rule on the motion at that time."

The league requested an investigator and cited in its May argument an independent study it said found more than 400 claims recommended for denial based on evidence of fraud by attorneys, doctors and former players attempting to cheat the program. The league has said those attempts to scam the $1 billion settlement fund have slowed down the awarding of valid claims.

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.

It covers retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers, with awards as high as $5 million for the most serious cases.

Attorneys for the league had cited practices such as doctors seeing players for evaluation not in clinical settings [url=]Tyler Ervin Jersey[/url] , but in hotel rooms, law offices or other places. They also cited a doctor who said she spent seven to 12 hours evaluating each patient, but approved sometimes as many as eight patients a day.

A lawyer for several plaintiffs said Wednesday that he and others representing the players supported Brody's decision.

"Since the NFL filed its motion more than three months ago, the claims process has continued to accelerate and the current audit process is working effectively," said Chris Seeger, co-lead counsel for the retired players. "We will not allow a small number of potentially fraudulent claims to be used as an excuse by the NFL to deny payment to legitimately injured former players."

In their May arguments [url=]Eric Ebron Jersey[/url] , Seeger and other attorneys noted that the instances of fraudulent claims would be cut dramatically after the most recent rules for claims went into effect, including a list of approved physicians to determine eligibility.

Brody warned in her ruling that she expects the process to ensure valid claims are promptly paid.

SALT LAKE CITY — It isn’t a cliche to say that the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers have reached a juncture where every game counts. Plenty is at stake when the two teams clash in Salt Lake City on Thursday night.

Utah (45-33) has won three straight and is a half-game up on San Antonio for fourth place in the Western Conference after the Spurs dropped an overtime decision to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Jazz need to keep winning to clinch that top four seed and earn homecourt advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The Clippers (42-36) trail New Orleans by two games for the final playoff spot. They need more wins and a little help elsewhere to keep their season going beyond next week.

For Utah, the path to a top-four seed requires overcoming some recent struggles at home. The Jazz won their second straight home game Tuesday after edging the Los Angeles Lakers 117-110.

It wasn’t a simple task. The Lakers shot 48.6 percent from the field overall and made 14 3-pointers. Utah needed 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting from Ricky Rubio — his fifth career 30-point game — to outlast them.

The Jazz struggled with everything from closing out on shooters to stopping transition baskets. It left coach Quin Snyder unhappy with the effort he witnessed.

“Our focus needs to be: be better,” Snyder said. “All I’ve heard is the playoffs and we’re in the playoffs. We’re not in the playoffs. There’s no x next to our name in the standings, so we need to play with more urgency and more focus.”

Perimeter defense has been a major issue in recent games for the Jazz. Seven of Utah’s last 10 opponents have shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range. Four have shot better than 50 percent from long distance.

The Lakers shot 13-of-21 from 3-point range through three quarters before finally going 1-of-7 over the final 12 minutes. It let Los Angeles hang around and made the Jazz sweat out a win.

“I don’t think for us it should be hard,” Utah guard Donovan Mitchell said. “We kind of did this to ourselves a little bit. I think the biggest thing with us is being able to come out strong.”

The Clippers picked up a critical 113-110 victory over San Antonio on Tuesday night to keep their playoff hopes alive. Los Angeles rallied in the fourth quarter against the Spurs [url=]D.J. Reader Jersey[/url] , scoring 41 points to overcome a double-digit deficit. Lou Williams supplied 15 of his 22 points in the final quarter and Tobias Harris led the way with 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting.

It snapped a two-game losing streak for Los Angeles. One reason for it is the Clippers showed marked improvement in getting to the free throw line and making free throws. They went 34-of-43 from the line against the Spurs after making 31-of-49 free throws combined in losses to Portland and Indiana.

The Clippers also closed strong in the fourth quarter against San Antonio after falling victim to a final quarter rally against the Pacers.

Los Angeles could be a little short-handed Thursday. Danilo Gallinari sat out Tuesday with a sore right hand and it’s doubtful he will be available agaunst the Jazz. Gallinari has appeared in only 21 games this season because of injuries.

“It’s day by day,” Gallinari told the Los Angeles Times. “I will go with the team to Utah, and hopefully the pain is a little better and I play next game.”

Utah has won two of the first three meetings this season. The Jazz beat the Clippers 125-113 on Jan. 20 in the most recent encounter. Utah never trailed and was powered by 23 points from Mitchell and 21 points from Joe Ingles.

Los Angeles fell short despite 31 points, seven assists and a franchise-record 10 steals from Williams. He became the first player in NBA history to have 30 points, 10 steals and seven assists in a game.

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