SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Retired NFL players, including John Brodie and Paul Hornung, claim in a federal class that their attorneys failed to adequately represent them in a breach of contract lawsuit against the NFL Players Association. In the underlying action, the players claimed the NFLPA neglected to pursue licensing opportunities for retired players, “concentrating its efforts instead on current players.”
Two classes of plaintiffs, including Bernard Parrish, Bob Grant and Clifton McNeil, claim that lawyers for the firms Manatt, Phelps and Phillips and McKool Smith failed to get them the award they deserved.
One class includes retired NFL members who were party to the underlying action. The second class includes retired NFL players who met the definition of the class in the first case but “for reasons unknown were excluded.”
In the underlying action, the players received a settlement of more than $26 million. But they say it would have been more had their attorneys presented an email exchange between the NFLPA and Electronic Arts executive Jeremy Strauser, showing that the NFLPA refused to allow the video game maker to include retired football players in its “Madden NFL” game.
Though Manatt and McNeil tried to introduce the email chain into evidence, the District Court found that a foundation had not been laid and disallowed it.
“As the District Court noted, [Manatt and McNeil] should not have gambled on somehow getting the critical statements of Mr. Strauser into evidence. There was not good reason for this failure,” the players say, noting that “this evidence would likely, according the trial judge and common sense, have enlarged the award.”
Lead plaintiff Bernard Parrish says one of the attorneys would listen to his objections “politely over the phone, then tell him has no more than the same right as any other citizen to comment on the settlement, and hang up.”
The players demand punitive damages for malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. They are represented by Maxwell Blecher with Blecher and Collins of Los Angeles.