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NFL Lawsuit Filed: Insurers Refuse to Pay for Head Injury Suit Costs

Posted on Sep 07, 2012

Bloomberg reported recently on litigation initiated by the National Football League (NFL) against more than 30 insurance companies. The league alleges that the insurers have refused to cover the expense of defending against lawsuits that former football players and others have brought against the NFL in connection with head trauma and related long-term health issues the former players have experienced. 

According to the Bloomberg report, the NFL said in its complaint that at least 143 lawsuits have been filed against the league by former players, their families, or other representatives. The NFL’s complaint against the insurance companies was filed in California state court in Los Angeles on August 14, 1012.

The NFL claims that the insurance companies named in the complaint are guilty of breach of contract and that the league has had to pay $5 million to attorneys and others in connection with its defense, when the insurers should have been responsible for covering those fees. 

Language in the league’s complaint indicated that the “duty-to-defend policies contractually impose on each issuing insurer a duty to defend any suit against the NFL and/or NFL Properties on account of bodily or personal injury covered or potentially covered by the policy, even if the allegations of the suit are groundless, false or fraudulent,” according to Bloomberg.

More than 80 lawsuits filed against the NFL by thousands of former football players and other individuals were consolidated in federal court in Philadelphia on June 7. This “master complaint” centers on several charges, including “negligence and failing to inform players of the link between repeated traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries, including early onset of Alzheimer’s, dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”

The lawsuits follow considerable public debate about the NFL’s obligations to players with respect to the injuries they sustain during games.

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John L. Keefe
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