Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Court of Appeal Affirms Stay of NFL’s Declaratory Relief Action
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday affirmed an order staying proceedings in the Los Angeles Superior Court brought by the National Football League against its insurers in connection with injury claims by 73 former players.
Ventura Superior Court Judge Vincent J. O’Neill, sitting on assignment, wrote the opinion for Div. Five. It affirms the determination by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley Jr. that proceedings here must await the outcome of those in New York where the NFL is headquartered.
Explaining what’s at issue in the litigation, O’Neill wrote:
“The National Football League has returned to Los Angeles, but not, as many Angelenos hope, bearing the gift of a new home team. The league administration and its intellectual property marketing arm have been sued in multiple states by dozens of former players alleging lifelong brain damage from on-field injuries dating back to the 1950’s. In this case the plaintiffs, National Football League and NFL Properties LLC, seek a Los Angeles Superior Court declaratory relief judgment regarding the coverage duties of 32 insurance carriers pursuant to some 187 commercial liability policies that were issued over a 50-60 year period. All the same entities are parties to parallel coverage actions filed by some of the insurers in New York state courts at approximately the same time as the California case.”
The Los Angeles plaintiffs are former players for erstwhile Los Angeles teams, the Raiders (now in Oakland), and the Chargers (now in San Diego), as well as the San Francisco 49ers.
O’Neill rejected the NFL’s contention that Wiley applied the wrong legal standards. Where a court stays, rather than dismisses an action based on forum non conveniens, O’Neill said, the moving party need not show that the forum is “seriously inconvenient.”
There is no strong presumption in favor of the plaintiff’s choice of forum where, as in the present case, the plaintiff, an unincorporated association, does not reside in California, the jurist wrote. Though it has contacts here, the NFL resides in New York where it is headquartered, he said.
The case is National Football League v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, 2013 S.O.S. 2669.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company