PHILADELPHIA – A ruling from a federal judge in Pennsylvania remains pending on whether or not compulsory arbitration will be permanently prohibited, in the case of a litigation funder that pursued financial recovery against a former National Football League player who allegedly failed to repay it a loan.
U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody, tasked with presiding over the multi-district litigation surrounding neurocognitive impairments said to be suffered by ex-NFL players during their active athletic careers, has yet to issue a ruling on whether mandatory arbitration will ever take place between Thrivest Specialty Funding and former NFL player William E. White.
This past December, Brody ordered that class participants in what has become popularly known as the “NFL Concussion Litigation” were forbidden from using third-party litigation funders to finance their claims.
One year prior, in December 2016, White, an 11-year veteran of professional football suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, decided to sell Thrivest a part of his estimated $3.5 million settlement from the NFL Concussion Litigation in exchange for a $500,000 advance payment – which he used to pay off outstanding tax liens to the Internal Revenue Service.
A 19 percent interest rate applied to White’s deal with Thrivest, but per the agreement reached between the parties, the litigation funder would only receive money if White’s settlement claim was approved.
However, the class action’s co-lead plaintiff counsel Christopher A. Seeger reiterated Brody’s December order nullifying these same types of funding agreements in the NFL Concussion Litigation, and now White alleges he doesn’t have to pay Thrivest back at all.
Though Thrivest sought to have the matter immediately sent to arbitration, Brody issued a temporary injunction on May 4 that prevented the matter from heading into an arbitration session, with a permanent injunction potentially in the cards.
Thrivest believes the deal it struck with White was not an assignment of his claims to it, but instead a “sale” of his settlement proceeds for $500,000 – and thus, was not covered by Brody’s December order.
Peter C. Buckley, a member of Thrivest’s counsel team, offered no comment on the litigation.
Seeger was not able to be reached for comment at press time.
In a larger sense and as to the overarching NFL Concussion Settlement litigation, arguments on the possible appointment of a special investigator to examine potentially fraudulent settlement claims will take place on May 30 at 11 a.m. in a federal courtroom in Philadelphia, per an order from Brody.
Plaintiff Thrivest is represented by John R. Gotaskie Jr., Eric E. Reed, Mark J. Fanelli and Buckley of Fox Rothschild, in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:18-cv-01877
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org