SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 2,000 retired professional football players scored a major legal victory in a San Francisco federal courtroom today when jurors awarded a $28.1 million verdict against the National Football League Players Association and its licensing and marketing division.
The verdict reached before the Hon. William Allsup in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California requires the NFLPA union and its subsidiary, Players Inc., to compensate thousands of retired players. Jurors found that the defendants breached their fiduciary duty by failing to market retired players’ licensing rights under a group licensing authorization contract covering the licensing of electronic games, collectables and other merchandise. The verdict included $21 million in punitive damages.
The jury of eight women and two men reached their decision following nearly three weeks of trial. The original claim was filed nearly two years ago with professional football legend Herb Adderley as the class representative.
Mr. Adderley and the victorious former NFL players were represented by attorneys from the national law firms of McKool Smith, P.C., and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. The McKool Smith team included firm principal Lew LeClair and senior counsel Jill Naylor.
“This verdict is a great victory for the men who devoted their lives to building professional football,” says Mr. LeClair of McKool Smith, attorney for the retired players. “We are thankful the jury decided to right this wrong.”
During trial, several former NFL stars testified about the benefits promised by the union that were never received, and the difficulties in gaining information about the NFLPA’s finances and licensing agreements.
McKool Smith has more than 95 attorneys in Dallas, Austin, Marshall, New York and Washington, D.C., handling commercial and intellectual property litigation for national and international clients. The firm is recognized as one of the premier litigation law firms in the United States, having earned significant courtroom victories for clients such as American Airlines, BearingPoint, Ericsson, Electronic Data Systems, Medtronic Inc., and Sony Ericsson.