Judge Chooses Special Investigator in NFL Concussion Settlement
On December 10, 2018, U.S. District Judge Anita J. Brody, the judge overseeing the NFL concussion settlement, appointed former Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel to serve as the special fraud investigator in the NFL Concussion Settlement. Under Judge Brody’s order, Judge Stengel will serve as a Special Investigator and will “look into possible fraudulent claims.”
As we have previously reported, since April 2018, the NFL has asked Judge Brody to appoint a special investigator to examine potentially fraudulent concussion claims that may be “clogging the system” of the $1 billion NFL Concussion settlement. Of the 2,000 plus claims submitted, according to the NFL, about 46 percent indicate the presence of fraud. However, on several occasions, Judge Brody denied the NFL’s request for a special investigator. In July 2018, Judge Brody noted, “[t]he NFL [had] provided sufficient evidence of possible fraud to warrant serious concern … however, the Claims Administrator and Special Masters have demonstrated that they [were] capable of ferreting out any claims involving misrepresentations, omissions, or concealment of material fact, and ensuring that those claims are not paid.” However, by September 2018, following a request by the Special Masters, it became clear that a special investigator was needed.
According to Judge Brody’s order, “at the direction of the Special Masters, [Judge Stengel] has the authority to conduct investigations and make recommendations to the Special Masters, in order to assist them in faithfully implementing the [s]ettlement.” Further, “[Judge Stengel] is authorized to exercise the full authority [to] … issue subpoenas, compel and take testimony under oath and/or conduct any additional discovery.” Lastly, “[Judge Stengel] must file any reports, recommendations or other materials directly with the Special Masters.”