As the National Hockey League has completed another season and a new batch of draft picks are signing contracts with the clubs that selected them, the NHL seems to be feeling it. That confidence is apparent in its latest activity in the ongoing concussion litigation.
Months after the NHL reached a settlement with all but six of the over 300 plaintiffs who sued the league for damages they alleged were due to neural trauma suffered while employed as players in its games, the NHL is looking to conclude the matter with a resounding victory that will leave such players and their families to deal with the effects of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and dementia on their own budgets and efforts.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/23/the-nhl-is-taking-a-victory-lap-for-now/
“League of Denial” took centerstage at a hearing last Friday between the NFL and its insurers, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. Richard Pratt, one of the attorneys representing the insurers gripped a copy of the groundbreaking 2013 book, and placed it on the insurers’ table during the 75-minute hearing in which the insurance companies argued to obtain the discovery the NFL has evaded for seven years.
Don’t forget to check out my previous post that details three recent decisions by Judge Brody in the NFL Concussion Settlement. Yesterday I learned that one of the anonymous claimants denied was the family of legendary quarterback Ken Stabler, and updated the story accordingly. If you’ve already read the article, you can jump straight to the Stabler story by clicking here.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/21/will-the-nfls-insurers-finally-fracture-the-shield-with-discovery/
Last week, Judge Brody issued rulings in three individual appeals, and in each instance, the appellee prevailed. In this instance, two appeals were players who sought to reverse denied claims and in the other, the NFL sought to kill an approved claim.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/20/3-recent-nfl-concussion-settlement-rulings/
We have a major announcement to make! Advocacy for Fairness in Sports is now officially a nonprofit organization! Expenses in tracking dockets and providing investigative sports journalism prompted the decision to make the big move, and as we thank you for past support we hope that you’ll continue to lend your support as we strive to provide the best sports advocacy coverage on the web, in addition expanding services and support to athletes, including financial support. You can read more about our formation, and goals on our newly created “about” page”
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/13/big-news/
Reflections from SLA 45 from a First Time Attendee Part 1
From May 16th to 19th, the Sports Lawyers Association held its 45th annual conference, in Phoenix, Arizona, with the beautiful JW Marriott resort as its temporary home and red mountains, cacti and palm trees as its backdrop. As a first time attendee and someone who has one toe (or two) dipped into the sports law pool but who is seriously contemplating jumping in feet or bottom first, not only was this the best and only place to be but the event did not disappoint.
Reflections from SLA 45 from a First Time Attendee Part 2
As I mentioned in part 1 of this review, the three-day Sports Lawyers Annual Conference was a mine of information and summarizing it adequately would be an impossible task. One would have had to be able to be at different places at once in order to attend every session and hear every word but, my hope is that my list of takeaways captures enough of its essence to be of interest to people who were in attendance and people who were not. In this second and last part, I focus on student-athletes in the NCAA, sports betting & gambling, and sexual abuse.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/11/reflections-on-slac-2019/
This week the federal dockets were full of opinions, orders, and lawsuits concerning retired NFL players in both the disability and concussion settlement spheres as well as cases concerning other athletes.
We’ll try to recap as many as possible over the weekend so check back in when you can. The first story details an order in which Judge Brody sends a retired player to arbitrate his funding contract with Thrivest Specialty funding.
“Hit or Miss?” Litigation Funding Issues in NFL Concussion Settlement take an Odd Turn
On Thursday, Judge Anita Brody ordered former Rams and Redskins safety Toby Wright to arbitration with Thrivest Specialty funding. That she ordered the player to arbitration isn’t surprising considering an April 26 ruling by the Third Circuit, vacating her ruling that enjoined Thrivest from pursuing arbitration against a different player and her dismissal of Thrivest’s complaint against him, the tone of her order is somewhat curious.
Cognitively Impaired Player files Lawsuit Against NFL, NFLPA After 18 Years of Stonewalling
The NFL is inconsistent in many ways—player discipline, domestic violence, concussion protocols, and even enforcement of their on-field rules. Has anyone figured out what a catch is yet? The one area in which the NFL is the epitome of consistency is how they battle former players who seek to collect for disabilities resulting from their NFL careers. In both the CBA bargained disability plan and the concussion settlement, damaged players face an uphill battle to find recompense. “Delay, deny, and hope they die,” should be engraved on the cornerstone of every tax-payer subsidized NFL stadium. Such is the story of Andre Royal, as documented in a recently filed lawsuit against the NFL, the NFLPA and the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan.
Tenney v. FaZe Clan Proves Esports Can No Longer Be Ignored
A high-profile lawsuit between one of the most successful Fortnite streamers in the world and the esports company that signed him to a promotional deal has brought new attention to the industry. The lesson is that esports can no longer be treated as a fringe extension of the entertainment industry but rather as another component just as legitimate as film and theater.
Tfue, whose given name is Turner Tenney, is a popular Fortnite player whose live and recorded streams of himself playing the game draw millions of viewers. Tenney is able to monetize that content via Twitch and YouTube Gaming revenue share programs along with third-party endorsement deals for products endemic to his art.
NFL Concussion Settlement Atty Says “Release the 5 Percent”
In a motion filed on June 4, attorney James Acho, implores the court to release the 5% holdbacks that have been deducted from every paid award since claims processing began for the NFL Concussion Settlement.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/08/busy-docket-week/
Three status reports were released on Monday, detailing various aspects of the NFL Concussion Settlement; one each from the Special Masters, Claims Administrator, and BAP Administrator. The reports provide a great deal of information, and the BAP report is especially revealing.
In other NFL Lawsuit news, Richard Dent has appealed the denial of his proposed class action painkiller lawsuit to the Third Circuit as noted below.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/03/latest-nfl-concussion-settlement-status-reports-released/
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/06/02/newsletter-1/
On Friday, Judge Anita Brody issued an order firing all class counsel not named Christopher Seeger.
The reasons stated in the order appear to be a smokescreen in that no class counsel are paid unless assigned work by Chis Seeger or Judge Brody.
Outside the concussion settlement, another terrible injustice is being exposed in Olympic Taekwondo.
At What Price Glory?
The potential for and actuality of sexual abuse of young athletes is rampant as awareness increases of abuses in swimming, wrestling, weightlifting, figure skating, and numerous other sports. In all, Washington Post reports that over 290 coaches and officials in Olympic sports have been implicated in sexual abuse of the athletes in their charge. Additionally, the abuse is accompanied by a consistent barrage of cover-ups protecting the assailants with little if any regard for the victims.
A particularly heinous example is brought out in a disturbing lawsuit filed by over 50 women against two of taekwondo’s most celebrated athletes, Steven and Jean Lopez, who are accused of rape, forced labor and sex trafficking of numerous young taekwondo athletes, many of them minors between 1997 and 2018.
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/05/25/youre-fired/
Professor Elizabeth Chamblee Burch’s recently published book, Mass Tort Deals: Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation, is a close-up examination of how repeat-player attorneys often compromise the plaintiffs they’re appointed to represent as the construct deals that reward defendants, their own bank accounts, and judges who favor efficiency over justice. She has compiled 6 years of research of 22 mass tort cases to present a revealing picture of the abuses that often go unnoticed. I’ve combined her research with 3 years of my own research delving into the NFL Concussion Settlement and its myriad of problems, and have started a deep-dive series on how the systemic failures Professor Burch notes are entwined with the NFL litigation and settlement, and how players who trusted the system have been harmed. The first two articles are below.
The NFL Concussion Settlement is going off the rails and the issues are systemic. Problematic from the start, collisions between player interests and the interest of the NFL have steadily accelerated with the NFL prevailing in most instances. Judge Brody’s latest ruling, severely restricting players’ choice of doctors, and adding extra layers of scrutiny to an already burdensome process while changing the entire dynamic in favor of the NFL has finally derailed what was once seen as a beacon of hope to suffering retirees and their families.
Transferee judges like Anita Brody have a tremendous amount of power in the MDLs assigned to them, so why don’t they monitor for deals that disadvantage plaintiffs? Or should that fail, why don’t attorneys who do have a vested interest in plaintiff outcomes object more vigorously? The answer lies in a strangely balanced power dynamic that sometimes resembles a “game of thrones.”
Permanent link to this article: https://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/2019/05/20/nfl-concussion-settlement-power-plays-resemble-a-game-of-thrones/