Insurers seek NFL lawsuit over concussion settlement costs

The NFL has been suing for more than a decade against a group of insurers over whether carriers should cover the more than $1 billion concussion settlement costs.

In a new development, insurers are asking a New York state court to overturn the 11-year-old’s case because the 32 teams, not the league itself, are paying the settlement. The lawsuit is brought by the NFL and not the teams.

According to court filings, insurers recently fired NFL attorney general Jeffrey Bash, NFL chief financial officer Joe Sickler, and Giants co-owner Jon Mara to determine the source of funds for the settlement.

“The NFL parties have not suffered any damages in connection with the settlement or the withdrawal settlement,” the insurers wrote, also referring to 92 individual player lawsuits that have also been settled. Instead, all the obligations attributed to them flow into the teams and are fully assimilated. Hence, to the extent that the NFL parties have incurred any defense or settlement costs, they have already been made in full by the teams, as required by the NFL Constitution and Regulations and as evidenced by discovery.”

The insurers appended relevant parts of the constitution and bylaws, which require teams to indemnify the league’s office against lawsuits.

The proposal indicates that he obtained the rule of the Constitution through discovery, although the document has long been publicly available. In fact, when Jon Gruden’s attorneys demanded that the NFL disclose its constitution and bylaws as part of its lawsuit against the league, the NFL agreed but not before indicating that the document was publicly available.

So it’s not clear why insurers need to find out that the difference covers legal costs and settlements. The Office of the League is a for-profit business association funded by its 32 team members, the source of the bulk of the NFL’s $16 billion in annual revenue.

After accessing the comment, Bash emailed that he hadn’t read the movement yet. But the university is clearly opposed to paying to amend answers already provided by insurance companies to the NFL’s lawsuit with the new argument.

First, the insurers noted in the proposal, “After a few follow-up emails to the NFL parties and a meet and discussion call, the NFL parties’ attorney confirmed on July 26, 2022, that they would not agree to the amendment.”

Clearly, the NFL understands the new legal argument. Court documents revealed that the association itself had fired top insurance executives over the issue.

TIG Insurance, North River Insurance and US Fire Insurance are the only insurance companies remaining in the business. Gradually over the years, the NFL settled in with the carriers, shedding over twenty years.

It’s unclear how far the NFL seeks out of the remaining three, but the movement describes them as “substantial” and covers policies issued from 1978 to 2002.

In a 2021 filing, the insurers wrote, “NFL parties are now seeking more than $1 billion in compensation coverage.”

Linda Bennett, president of Lowenstein Sandler’s Insurance Recovery Group, called the latest proposal to call for dismissals due to the league’s teams dynamic “overtaking.”

“To the extent that (retired) players take the position that the NFL is potentially liable for failing to follow appropriate policies, procedures, and protocols for handling concussions (for example, holding teams responsible for not removing players from the field after a serious injury), there is A path for the team to be held accountable for the lack of a player off-field policy and for the NFL to be responsible for failing to require all teams to have and enforce such policies,” she wrote in an email.

The NFL preemptively sued the carriers in 2012 to cover what became a steady stream of lawsuits from former players suing for head injuries. Insurance providers opposed days later.

The insurers case remained shortly after – for three years at last – while the players’ class action claims were consolidated and settlement talks ensued. The players and the NFL agreed to a settlement in 2014 and finalized it in 2015.

The deal is unlimited and obligates payments over 65, although only retired players at the time of the settlement agreement are eligible. According to the movement of insurance companies, more than 997 million dollars have been paid so far.

The settlement with the former players, who accused the NFL of concealing head injury risks, was settled before any discovery began. This would only have happened if the judge had not dismissed the case.

The primary argument of insurance providers is that if the NFL knows the risks of head injuries, the coverage is voided. To this end, the carriers have been making discoveries since 2017, which “resulted in millions of pages of documents”.

And in March, the affidavits, the first in all years, began various concussion lawsuits. Insurers write in court papers that through those interviews, they learned that the teams were the source of the settlements’ funding.

(Photo: Kim Clement/USA Today)

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