NFL players have already filed suits against Riddell for the company’s failure to warn of risks and defects. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, the Pennsylvania federal judge overseeing the case, may allow the plaintiffs to amend and expand their claims to include conspiracy, fraud, and misrepresentation, which would introduce the possibility of punitive damages. Riddell’s attorneys have stated they would oppose such an amendment; meanwhile, several plaintiff’s attorneys have indicated they will move to have their suits sent back to the respective state courts.
“I will be surprised if many of the claims are not eventually remanded back to state court,” Joe told Law360, citing an Illinois federal judge’s decision last year to remand similar claims against Riddell back to state court. The federal judge in that case “relied on the fact that the case did not invoke the Labor Management Relations Act and thusly did not belong in federal court, a rationale that could be seen in these cases as well,” he explained.
The ongoing litigation against Riddell could have broad implications for other sports equipment manufacturers and sports litigation and liability more generally. “In looking beyond the NFL and Riddell, we may begin to see an influx of misrepresentation claims against all manufacturers,” Joe said.
As head of the Sports and Entertainment Practice Group at GS, Joe has represented industry giants such as Gatorade and the Buffalo Bills as well as NBA All-Stars and NHL Hall-of-Famers in commercial and premises liability disputes, contract negotiations, licensing agreements, and other matters. He is one of the foremost legal authorities on the massive NFL concussion litigation (of which the Riddell suits are a part), having authored the first comprehensive examination of the complex liability issues at play. Joe has also written on the ongoing Riddell litigation for Goldberg Segalla’s award-winning Sports and Entertainment Law Insider blog.