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SBD/Issue 41/Leagues & Governing Bodies
Jury Awards Group Of NFL Retirees $28.1M For Lack Of Marketing
Published November 11, 2008
|Richard Berthelsen Says NFLPA Will Look To
Have Judge Throw Out Jury's Decision
HOW DAMAGES WERE AWARDED: Kessler said it was telling that on the core contractual breach charge, there was no damages. The plaintiffs alleged that a group licensing agreement signed by the class of retired players entitled them to share in licensing revenue only going to active players. The jury sided with them on that, but then did not give them a penny. The fiduciary duty charge alleges the union turned its backs on the players who the group had an obligation to. However, during the trial, the plaintiff’s damages witness testified he had not done an analysis of how much the players should receive for this charge, which would have involved deciphering their marketability and what they would have gotten had they not entrusted some of their rights to the union. Nonetheless, the jury awarded $7.1M (Kaplan). In S.F., Bob Egelko reports the jury ruled the NFLPA “had failed to protect the retirees’ rights,” which “opened up the union to the steep punitive-damages decision” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/11).
UNION SHOULD NOT MARKET RETIRED PLAYERS: Kessler in his closing arguments made clear one message that will remain from the jury’s verdict regardless of the appeal -- the NFLPA should not be trying to market retired players. The NFLPA is the only one of the big four sports unions to do so. Katz said, “I expect a leadership change at the NFLPA and I would hope that the new leadership would want to reconcile the active and retired players by, among other things, settling this lawsuit” (Kaplan).