Dan Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal reports that the appeal of the retired players $28.1 million dollar verdict against the NFLPA could take years to resolve. The lawsuit stems from the NFLPA’s group licensing program for NFL retirees. Ron Katz, the attorney who represented 2,062 former NFL players in the lawsuit, said a decision on the appeal would not be made until 2011 or 2012 due to the number of cases pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The NFLPA has said it will appeal the verdict all the way to the Supreme Court. If that happens the appeal process could run into 2013.
If the verdict is upheld the NFLPA would be responsible for interest on the $28.1 million while the appeal is pending. They could also be responsible for the additional attorneys’ fees incurred by the retired players during the appeal process.
The final outcome of the case may not be decided for years. The next NFLPA Executive Director may prefer to settle the case and not deal with the negative publicity stemming from the mistreatment of former NFL players. It seems the one candidate least likely to settle the retired players’ verdict is former player Trace Armstrong. Armstrong testified for the defense in the case.
An article regarding Armstrong’s candidacy for the NFLPA Executive Director position appeared in SportsBusiness Journal on March 9, 2009. At the end of each story readers are permitted to leave comments. Retired players’ attorney Ron Katz left the following comment:
“As co-counsel for the retired players in their $28,100,000 jury verdict against the NFLPA last November, I hold the strong opinion that Mr. Armstrong’s testimony as an NFLPA witness was not credible to the jury and that his selection would deepen the artificial divide that Messrs. Upshaw, Allen, and Armstrong created between active and retired players. There should be absolutely no conflict between active and retired players because all active players will become retired players in a short time and many, unfortunately, will have to deal with a disability system that ignores serious injury and illness.”
The NFLPA solicited retired players to sign the group licensing agreements for over fourteen years. Not a single former NFL player was ever paid under the retired players’ group licensing program.