Legal Roundup: NFL Head Trauma, Dam Accident Causes Strife, the Madoff’s in Court Again and More

A look at recent court decisions and how their rulings have an impact on risk management and the insurance industry.
By: | May 14, 2019

Lawsuit Claims NFL Directed Insurance Carrier to Deny Claims

The Case: An Illinois medical clinic sued the NFL for allegedly directing its insurance carrier to deny claims by former players. Advanced Physicians S.C. also claimed that the NFL retaliated against the clinic for providing diagnostic services to former players.

The Sporting News reports: “The suit says Advanced has treated more than 200 former NFL players since 2007, but beginning in mid-2015 Cigna began subjecting all claims to an audit process. Cigna administers the NFL Player Insurance Plan.

“As outlined in the collective bargaining agreement, the plan provides benefits to vested veterans and their families for up to five years after their retirement. According to the suit, the NFL did not want the clinic to provide tests to players to diagnose disabilities that would make them eligible for benefits under the $1 billion concussion settlement finalized with thousands of retired players in late 2016.”



Scorecard: The case was filed in Illinois state court in March but was recently moved to federal court. It’s still in the early stages.

Takeaway: Ever since evidence emerged that the NFL may have withheld information on the consequences of head trauma, the league has been trying to minimize the damage.

Ruth Madoff, Wife of Notorious Swindler Bernie Madoff, Settles Lawsuit

The Case: Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of liquidating Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, sued Ruth Madoff for $44.8 million.

In 2009, her husband Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for a ponzi scheme that swindled people out of millions.

Ruth Madoff was allowed to keep $2.5 million.

Scorecard: Ruth Madoff, now 77, settled the lawsuit, agreeing to “pay $594,000 and surrender her remaining assets when she dies to settle claims by the court-appointed trustee liquidating her husband’s firm,” according to Reuters.

Takeaway: The fallout from such an elaborate ponzi scheme takes years, but Picard is still fighting to get victims as much money back as possible. The new settlement is not evidence that Ruth Madoff knew about or participated in the fraud, said Reuters.

Iowa State University Settles Transgender Lawsuit

The Case: Former Iowa State University employee Elyn Fritz-Waters sued the school for discriminatory practices and not offering transgender people the same level of health care as everyone else.

In 2016, Fritz-Waters sought coverage for gender dysphoria but was denied through her ISU insurance.


“Fritz-Waters, who was assigned the male sex at birth, accused ISU of discrimination and violating the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code and Iowa Constitution,” according to The Gazette.

Scorecard: ISU settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay Fritz-Waters $18,333 and attorneys $9,166.

Takeaway: You can’t treat any employee differently based on sex or gender identity.

Mining Company Facing $5 Billion Suit Over Brazilian Dam Disaster

The Case: After a Brazilian dam collapse killed 19 and spread 40 million cubic meters of toxic sludge into the Doce River and Atlantic Ocean, English mining company BHP faces a $5 billion lawsuit back home.

“The claim, which will be largest group action to be heard in England, was served on the miner on Tuesday on behalf of 235,000 Brazilian individuals and organizations, including municipal governments, utility companies, indigenous tribes and the Catholic Church, according to law firm SPG Law,” according to Reuters.

It later wrote: “Claimants allege BHP, the world’s largest mining company by market value, was aware of rising safety concerns, failed to act on repeated warnings from independent safety experts, increased industrial output of iron ore despite safety concerns and placed the pursuit of profit over human and environmental risk.”

Scorecard: The case is in its preliminary stages but the potential cash award is huge.

Takeaway: Companies that are responsible for catastrophes overseas may still face consequences at home. &

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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