California Cannot Host NFL Concussion Battle

     (CN) – Insurers rebuffing the NFL’s demands for indemnification of concussion lawsuits need not mount their defense in California, a state appeals court ruled.
     More than 200 complaints have been filed against the NFL since 2011 by former players who claim to have suffered on-field concussions that led to permanent brain damage.
     In 2012, the league filed a pre-emptive action against 32 of its insurers in Los Angeles, seeking a declaration that the insurance companies must indemnify it for any damages owing to former players with brain injuries.
     That case had been stayed pending the outcome of a parallel New York case filed by the insurers several weeks later.
     California’s Second Appellate District upheld the stay Tuesday, finding that “the trial court, well aware of the primary place of business of the 49ers, Raiders and Chargers, properly exercised its discretion in assessing the nature of the NFL plaintiffs’ businesses as they relate to California as a forum. The court’s broad statement that NFL is not a California resident must be considered in light of its conclusion that technicalities regarding the form of plaintiffs’ association are outweighed by the undisputed fact of plaintiffs’ decades-long existence as New York entities separate and apart from the member teams.”
     The NFL’s headquarters are in New York, and the majority of the insurer defendants’ headquarters are located within 250 miles of New York City. Only one is headquartered in California.
     “The trial court properly recognized that NFL operates in New York independently of its teams, and properly considered the effect of that practical reality in its balancing of the private and public interest factors,” Justice Vincent O’Neill wrote for a three-member panel. “Those factors focus on practical concerns such as access to witnesses and evidence, the costs of litigation, and the interests of California and its citizens in deciding the dispute.”
     While plaintiffs are generally entitled to choose their own forum, this presumption does not apply to nonresident plaintiffs in California, according to the ruling.
     Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it ruled that “the NFL offers no logical reason for its understandable but self-interested request to have its way. No precedent supports this selective effort to file a redundant lawsuit in an illogical forum,” as quoted in the 47-page opinion.

%d bloggers like this: