Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NCAA Concussion Case Mediation

Just as the NFL settles its concussion case with former players, the NCAA is reportedly entering a mediation with former Eastern Illinois players on November 1st. Retired federal jurist, Layn Phillips, is expected to be the mediator and is known for helping the NFL and NFLPA reach a recent settlement in that dispute. Plaintiffs are seeking money damages, as well as long-term medical monitoring by the NCAA and stricter concussion guidelines. Since the lawsuit was filed two years ago, the NCAA hired a chief medical officer to address the concussion issue. Attorneys for plaintiffs are still seeking class action certification for the lawsuit potentially affecting thousands of players. The NCAA's case was damaged by discovery of emails and information showing that less than half of NCAA schools require a player to see a physician post-concussion. NCAA chief legal officer, Donald Remy, has stated the association is willing to consider reasonable mediation options that address student-athlete health and safety concerns. The NCAA still faces lawsuits in the O'Bannon licensing case, from Coach Paterno's family, and on appeal regarding investigation of former USC assistant coach Todd McNair. See story here-- and NCAA site commentary on concussion management--

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Detroit Deals by Multiple Mediators?

The mediation of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history utilizes judges as mediators to negotiate the most difficult disputes in trying to resolve billions in Detroit's bond and pension obligations. Proposed restructuring of obligations sparked outrage from city retirees whose pensions and benefits could be cut drastically. Hon. Gerald Rosen, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, was charged with overseeing confidential mediation, along with mediators of Judge Rosen's choosing. Judge Rosen appointed other mediators from the judiciary. Bankruptcy judges often utilize mediators as a way to bring together parties in private who might find it difficult to reach a consensus through a more open court process. The city and dozens of creditors launched negotiations this week in hopes of striking deals that could speed the Detroit bankruptcy case. Almost a hundred lawyers representing city pension funds, unions, retirees, the state and bondholders attended the first joint mediation session at federal court in downtown Detroit. Judge Rosen reportedly urged creditors to “Open your minds to areas where we can reach agreements.” Rosen was joined by his colleagues, including several judges from across the country. Negotiations will continue in the weeks ahead before all parties return to Detroit for additional talks next month. Portland based U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris will mediate a dispute between the city and bondholders; U.S. District Judge Wiley Daniel of Colorado was assigned to talks involving retirees; U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts will handle mediation with unions, including the UAW and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Retired U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Coar of Illinois will mediate disputes involving the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and Downtown Development Authority. All agreed the future of the region is at stake. See news item here--

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

NFL Helmet Maker Mediation

Last month, before the start of the NFL regular season, thousands of former players settled with the National Football League over concussion-related suits for $765 million. However, the apparent amicable resolution to their case doesn’t mean litigation is over. NFL helmet manufacturer Riddell and former players are continuing talks because the deal doesn’t include Riddell. While those negotiations remain confidential by order of the federal judge to "refrain from publicly discussing the mediation process or disclosing any discussions they may have as part of that process,” the proposed settlement between the NFL and some 4,500 former players awaits court approval and a determination on fees. In a prior order, the presiding judge, Hon. Anita Brody, expressed her belief that "the interests of all parties would be best served by a negotiated resolution of this case. The settlement holds the prospect of avoiding lengthy, expensive and uncertain litigation, and of enhancing the game of football.” Riddell may remain exposed following a state jury verdict this year in Colorado, determining that Riddell failed to adequately warn a former football player about the dangers of concussions, resulting in a $3.1 million damages. In this federal matter, Riddell had argued their case should be heard separately from the case against the NFL, but a motion to sever was never granted before ordering the Riddell defendants into the global mediation. See articles here-- and

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Join me next month for It-Lex's Innovate

Technology is outpacing the law. IT-Lex is a Florida not-for-profit organization dedicated to narrowing this gap with entertaining educational experiences. I'll be speaking with nationally known members of the judiciary such as Magistrate Judge John Facciola on cooperation in E-discovery at the first annual conference, Innovate. The Innovate conference will take place on October 17 & 18 in Winter Park, Florida at the brand new Alfond Inn at Rollins College and is designed as an interactive learning experience. Participants are encouraged to email specific questions or comments on our various topics to You can email us before or during the conference and presentations, and your participation is a key part of the conference experience. Come join us in introducing new methods and ideas to tackle emerging technology law issues with experts like Ken Withers of The Sedona Conference. See more information here-- or the full PDF here-