Riddell Attempts to Tackle NFL Discovery in False Advertising Case
In a letter to the court dated June 23, 2016, helmet producer Riddell told a New Jersey federal court that consumers claiming their helmets were falsely advertised do not need to pursue discovery against the NFL and its former concussion specialist. Riddell suggests that the subpoena is unnecessary at this time for their class certification bid.
The case dates back to 2014, when the plaintiffs alleged that Riddell knew their helmets were compromised. As a result of the study, Riddell marketed that their helmets boasted safety ratings that would reduce the risk of concussions. Riddell relied on the study to justify an increase in their helmet prices. The plaintiffs now seek compensation for the excess amount paid for the helmets based on the false claims.
Riddell’s letter outlines discovery issues that remain in the case, noting that the requests are unnecessary for class certification and should be stayed until the certification motion is decided. The plaintiffs seek to subpoena Biokinetics, a biomechanics firm hired by the NFL and retained by Riddell to complete the study, the NFL and Dr. Pellman, a rheumatologist that headed the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) Committee, and Dan Kult, a former Riddell employee. Additionally, plaintiffs seek to subpoena six of Riddell’s marketing and public relations firms, Mindsview Innovation, Weber Shandwick, Empire Green Creative, Wishbone Design Factory, Cohn & Wolfe, and MSL Chicago.
As the NFL’s concussion litigation remains an ongoing issue, it is not surprising that the plaintiffs are seeking to subpoena the league and Pellman. During Pellman’s time on the MTBI Committee, he has been accused of downplaying the risks associated with concussions. A congressional investigation found that the NFL attempted to influence the grant selection process in the National Institutes of Health’s concussion study. The NFL rejected the report.
Despite Riddell’s efforts to dismiss litigation, the company remains locked in several court battles. Last week, a West Virginia federal court denied a motion to dismiss a similar Riddell case. Riddell has agreed to revise subpoenas for Sports Authority and Dick’s Sport Goods.