We commence imPaneled’s resurrection with news of a proceeding that has actually been covered by the mainstream media—In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, a/k/a MDL 2323. But what is of interest to imPaneled as to MDL 2323 is decidedly not of interest to writers lacking for an “Esq.” after their names. To wit, Paul Weiss’s heaviest of heavyweights (Brad Karp and Ted Wells) initiated the Panel proceeding by moving for consolidation in the Cradle of Liberty to File Class Actions, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, under the decidedly uninformative caption In re National Football League Litigation. Someone in Washington must have objected, as the next filing—also by Paul Weiss—added the unpleasant “Players’ Concussion Injury” to the name. (On a related note, humor regarding other Panel defendants’ efforts to sanitize Panel captions almost caused a laugh riot at the Miami Panel hearing in late January.)
In any event, the subsequent battle fell other than along the usual lines, as most of the plaintiffs supported the NFL submission. But defendant helmet-maker Riddell asked the Panel to abstain, on the premise that three California cases naming only Riddell lacked sufficient common questions of fact. A relative handful of plaintiffs thereafter pressed for the District of New Jersey. Others—including Fulton “Kaptain Krazy” Kuykendall—pressed the Northern District of Georgia as an alternative. But the Panel hearing was a veritable Philadelphia-centric love-fest, the only drama being the disposition of the Riddell cases. Less than a week later, the Panel wisely left that to E.D. Pa. Judge Anita Brody, to whom all the cases were transferred. (And less than a week after that, the NFL undertook to influence the jury pool by running a slick Super Bowl ad touting its long-standing commitment to player safety.)
Nothing has been made public about who will coach the plaintiffs’ team, so to speak. But Hausfeld LLP, which is representing ex-players in unrelated litigation, is in the mix and not known for agreeing to take a back seat to anyone. Stay tuned.