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NFL's Insurers Win Home Field Advantage in NY

May 31, 2013

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The NFL has been sued by over 4,000 former players who allege that they suffered brain injuries during their careers, claiming that the NFL negligently failed to protect their players against such long-term injuries. These claims have spawned insurance coverage litigation in New York involving 187 policies that were issued between 1968-2012. Many of the insurers have taken the position that their policies do not provide coverage for the claims and that the alleged injuries do not fall within their policy’s period of coverage.

Meanwhile, the <a href="http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B245619.PDF" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NFL filed suit in California</a>, believing that state was a more favorable venue for the coverage litigation. The NFL argued that all of the insurers owe defense and indemnity for the players’ claims because the injuries continued through multiple policy periods and should be treated as occurring during each period.

The NFL argued that California was the best forum for the litigation because California has greater contacts with the parties. For example, three teams play in California:  the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.  Further, the NFL raised an issue well known to fans  -- only one team, the Buffalo Bills, plays in New York.  Despite their names, the New York Giants and New York Jets play in New Jersey.

The Court nevertheless ruled that the insurers' lawsuits in New York should take precedence over the California litigation because the NFL is headquartered in New York and most of the insurers are headquartered on the East Coast.

Thanks to Mendel Simon for his contribution to this post.  If you would like more information, please write to <a href="mailto:mbono@wcmlaw.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Mike Bono.</a>
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