Claims Servicer Pushes for Portion of Concussion Settlement Award Despite Alleged Predatory Lending
Case Strategies Group, a claims management service, argued on November 16, 2017 before U.S. District Judge Anita Brody that former NFL players should be allowed to pay third party lenders and claims services providers a portion of their settlement awards from the NFL Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation.
Last month, Christopher A. Seeger, co-lead counsel for the class of former players, argued the court should order the claims administrator to withhold portions of awards meant for lenders or claims services providers and block class members from distributing money before the court had determined the parties’ legal rights to it. In a response in opposition to Seeger’s motion, Case Strategies Group argued that the court lacked jurisdiction over the nonparties. It further argued that even if the court did have jurisdiction, it should not withhold awards because the class’s arguments center around “subjective beliefs” that it would be difficult to seek disgorgement if the court finds the third parties are not entitled to the funds, and a “faulty premise” that the third party contracts will ultimately be invalidated. Case Strategies Group further argued that class counsel failed to satisfy the standard for injunctive relief, relief which it says class counsel is effectively seeking.
Class counsel Seeger is also concerned with 3rd party lenders’ and claims services providers’ alleged predatory lending practices, saying “we will continue to protect class members from unscrupulous third parties.” In a February status conference with Judge Brody, Seeger said some of his clients were being “preyed upon” with offers of “loans that were ‘likely illegal.’” About 10 percent of those in the settlement class, which comprises about 20,000 former NFL players, have taken out loans against their expected awards.
Case Strategies Group was formally called ‘NFL Case Consulting,’ according to its attorney, Richard Scheff. In mid-March, five former NFL players who had registered for the settlement appeared to be working with NFL Case Consulting which, despite its name, isn’t affiliated with the NFL, according to court papers recently filed by the league’s claims administrator. A dozen more players told the administrator, BrownGreer PLC, they had received letters or calls from NFL Case Consulting. One former NFL player said NFL Case Consulting knew his Social Security number when it contacted him, claiming to be part of the NFL and asking for a 15 percent contingency fee to get his settlement processed. Scheff stated that Case Strategies Group will now use disclaimers stating it is not a law firm, nor is it affiliated with or endorsed by the NFL.