NFL's Concussion Settlement Subject of Lawsuit Over Hacking Accusations

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 7, 2021

The NFL shield / logo is seen on a goal post during an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
AP Photo/Matt Patterson

Collins & Truett, a law firm based in Doral, Florida, has accused people overseeing the administration of the NFL concussion settlement of numerous wrongdoings, per Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic.

Most notably, the law firm said in a lawsuit that HML Group, LLC hacked into its emails and email servers. Per a settlement press release, that organization "was hired to provide supportive investigative services in the ongoing investigation."

“The base motives of abuse and harassment involved in the auditor’s and special masters’ prosecution to deny NFL claims, and criminal conduct in hacking emails and email servers accomplishes nothing but tarnishing the reputation of Judge Brody,” the lawsuit reads, per Kaplan.

Brody refers to federal judge Anita Brody, who is tasked with overseeing the settlement.

The lawsuit also names five special masters and settlement administrator Roma Petkauskas of BrownGreer, who was conducting a corruption audit of the claims process, in the case.

The role of the special masters is defined as follows, per the settlement website:

"The Special Masters' duties include reporting and providing information to the Court; hearing appeals of registration determinations and of claim appeals at the Court’s request; and overseeing: (1) the settlement administrators; (2) complaints from Class Counsel, Counsel for the NFL Parties, or the settlement administrators; and (3) fraud detection and prevention processes."

BrownGreer PLC is the claims administrator, whose goal is to "implement and administer the Settlement Agreement," per the settlement website.

Those duties include many roles, most notably reviewing claim packages and deciphering whether settlement class members are eligible to receive.

BrownGreer PLC has fired back in a federal court filing, which requested Brody determine that Collins & Truett was "in contempt for allegedly violating the court’s mandate that disputes be resolved through its system," per Kaplan.

BrownGreer PLC is also inquiring about whether Tim Howard of Howard & Co., who was disqualified from having any part in the settlement by a court-appointed special master on June 22, is working for Collins & Truett in the case. Collins & Truett denied that was the case.

Per the official NFL concussion settlement website, there is a total of $865,198,142 in payable monetary award amounts. There are also 20,558 registered settlement class members.

The settlement became final in Dec. 2016 after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that upheld the settlement, per Lawrence Hurley of Reuters.

The settlement is summarized as follows on the official website, saying that retired NFL players "accused the NFL Parties of being aware of the evidence and the risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries, but failing to warn and protect players against those long-term risks and ignoring and concealing this information from players."

The NFL denied the claims, but negotiations led to litigation ending and the settlement being enacted.