NFL Concussion Court Punts On Firm’s Reconsideration Bid

Philadelphia-based Locks Law lost its renewed bid to be granted elevated class counsel status in the $1 billion NFL concussion class settlement, but it got a partial win July 2 in a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The court turned down a request that it reconsider an April 18 denial of firm’s appointment as administrative class counsel, but also eliminated a basis for the ruling that Locks Law said was “clear error.”

One reason for the original ruling, which denied Locks Law’s request to join New York’s Seeger Weiss as co-lead counsel, was its “role in facilitating third-party funding agreements to class members prohibited under the settlement agreement,” the court said in April.

Third-party funding agreements, under which lenders advance money to players expecting big payouts, are prohibited under the settlement agreement between the NFL and its former players, many of whom claim chronic brain diseases after years of playing the sport.

The April ruling was a “clear error of law” because it contained an “adverse finding and reprimand” of the firm on third-party funders without a fair hearing, Locks Law argued.

The firm’s win on that point came in a one-sentence order by U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, the substance of which was contained in a footnote.

“The court does not find this to be a clear error, however, to the extent that the third-party funder issue was a basis for the court’s decision, that basis is withdrawn,” the court said.

Locks Law was enlisted to “lead the coordination of third-party funder settlement-implementation issues” and “has performed admirably in that role,” the court said.

The case is In re Nat’l Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litig., E.D. Pa., No. 12-md-02323, motion for reconsideration denied 7/2/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com