NFL loses bid to block discovery process in concussion insurance coverage case


The NFL soon may have to finally disclose evidence that would reveal the full extent to which the league was aware of the dangers of concussions before taking meaningful steps to protect players from them.

On Monday, a New York judge lifted a longstanding stay of the discovery process in litigation filed between the NFL and its insurers over the availability of coverage in the concussion lawsuits.

As explained by Ken Belson of the New York Times, this hardly means that the media and fans will soon be able to see what the NFL knew and when the NFL knew it, because the league is expected to appeal the ruling. And even if the discovery process proceeds, any materials disclosed by the league to its insurers undoubtedly will be kept confidential unless and until the coverage dispute becomes the subject of a trial in open court.

If/when that ever happens — and more than 90 percent of all civil cases settle before a trial — it will happen years from now.

In the interim, the NFL will have plenty of reasons to settle the coverage claims before witnesses are questioned under oath and hundreds of thousands of documents are dumped onto the lawyers representing the insurers. Especially because, as the league realizes, any information disclosed in the insurance dispute can and will be used against the league in the lingering concussion lawsuits that aren’t within the still-pending mass settlement.

Consider this excerpt from the Law360 article regarding the dispute: “According to the NFL, one of the insurers’ defenses for denying coverage is that the league expected or intended the injuries suffered by the players suing in the underlying action. Thus giving the insurers a green light to prove those facts through discovery, including taking depositions of material witnesses related to the concussion issue, would inadvertently help those players and their families in their own case, the NFL contended.”

Stripping away the lawyer speak, the point here is that the NFL doesn’t want the insurance companies to gain access to evidence that may show the NFL knew enough about concussions to show that the league knew or should have known that players were being adversely impacted by them. The effort to shield such evidence from view strongly implies that such evidence exists.

If the NFL has its way, no one will ever see it, if it does indeed exist. The question becomes how long the league wants to engage in this game of chicken with an insurance company that has no interest in paying on the NFL’s claim.

13 responses to “NFL loses bid to block discovery process in concussion insurance coverage case

  1. So your saying the league office and the owners were “Generally aware” of the concussion risk

    Sounds like conduct detrimental to ” The Shield”

  2. They’ve already priced most fans out of actually going to their stadiums and taking every last dollar, so I’m good with the NFL crashing and burning.

  3. It may take years but we are witnessing the eventual downfall of the NFL. Once proven in court that the NFL knew of the risks and the insurers are not responsible to pay ? Mountains of new lawsuits will fall upon the NFL and there isn’t a judge or jury that not will award tons of cash. Enjoy the game folks because we are all swing its curtain call. Save this post.

  4. And everyone thought that when the NFL was hiring an expert in cellphone forensics it was so they could still retrieve data from Brady’s cell phone the next time they want to suspend him. Wrong. They have probably got hundreds of cell phones still in use by NFL employees and then thousands more of people they communicated with, that have detailed text and email messages embedded that describes what was known and when. That data could cost the NFL billions of dollars in the wrong hands. The NFL wants to get to it before WikiLeaks gets it.

  5. Toast. Expect class counsels, Weiss and Seeger, to be sued.

    Fair chances expect the discover will link the PA, NFL and lawyers together against the players.

    Judge Brody and the Special Master are going to down in history as played by lawyers to book massive profits.

  6. This kind of thing happened with Big Tobacco, Look what happened to the price of their product! The NFL has already priced the average guy out of more than about one game a year..
    Big Industry never pays the price, it is always the consumer.

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