(Photo: Flickr user hyku via Wikimedia Commons.)
Plaintiffs counsel in the National Football League concussion settlement lost a bid for discovery from a litigation funding company over agreements it made with ex-players, but U.S. District Judge Anita Brody granted a separate request by the plaintiffs to have several companies turn over information related to settlement-management agreements those companies are said to have with more than 80 claimants.
Brody, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, on Tuesday denied a request to have RD Legal Funding LLC turn over information about agreements the plaintiffs attorneys say the company entered into with at least seven members of the class.
According to court documents, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a complaint against the company in February, charging it with violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The federal lawsuit alleged RD Legal had scammed victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, as well as seven former NFL players, by charging usurious loans.
Class counsel asked for discovery on the issue in an effort to have the agreements voided by the court. Although the company provided the names of the former players it entered into agreements with, and said in court documents that it paid more than $1.6 million in exchange for portions of future settlement proceeds, plaintiffs counsel had wanted to take additional discovery on the issue.
Brody’s one-page order did not indicate why she denied the class counsel’s request.
Although Brody denied the request regarding RD Legal, she agreed to compel some discovery for six other third-party companies that have recently clashed with class counsel.
Also on Tuesday, Brody ruled that six companies, including Case Strategies Group and Liberty Settlement Funding, must provide a list of all the former players they communicated with, and entered into agreements with, and must turn over copies of those agreements.
In March, class counsel had filed an injunction barring the six companies from spreading allegedly false information about the settlement, and asked to take discovery on the issue.
The companies, according to the plaintiffs counsel, have contracted with 83 class members to “manag[e] and navigat[e] the complicated NFL concussion settlement.” The agreements, according to the plaintiffs attorneys, provide the work in exchange for between 8 and 15 percent of the claimant’s total recovery.
Seeger Weiss attorney Christopher Seeger, who is a lead attorney representing the plaintiffs, and Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads attorney Richard Scheff, who is representing the six companies, each did not return a call for comment. Michael Roth of Boies Schiller Flexner represented RD Legal Funding. Roth did not return a call for comment.
Along with the third-party discovery issues, numerous other disputes have recently arisen in the NFL concussion litigation, even though the settlement registration period recently came to a close.
The $1 billion settlement accord was approved in 2015, and is expected to compensate roughly 20,000 former players diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other neurocognitive diseases. The litigation had been hotly contested for years, with a prior accord having been initially rejected by the court. Parties who took issue with the fact that the settlement does not include payments for players diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy also lodged a challenge to the settlement weeks after it received judicial approval. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, blocked that effort when it declined to take up the issue in December.
Since then, counsel have fought over how $112 million in attorney fees should be divided, and in August motions were filed asking the court to adjust the settlement’s deadlines, and change how the administrator is processing the claims.
In a third ruling Brody issued Tuesday, she ordered Seeger to submit a detailed proposal allocating attorney fees among the class counsel, including the precise amounts to be awarded, as well as a justification for the work performed.