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Leading the NFL Concussion Litigation

2012 April 9

In complex, multi-district litigation, the court generally requires the parties to designate various leadership positions to determine the multiple lawyers’ roles. The goal is to provide a leadership structure that accounts for the varying skills and abilities of each lawyer involved and to provide an efficient and judicious means in which to coordinate the litigation. And, on a less pragmatic scope, to ensure the diverse egos don’t conflict, although there is no guarantee that will occur. There are three basic leadership positions up for grabs: Executive Committee, Steering Committee and Liaison Counsel.

Last week, the plaintiffs’ counsel submitted a Proposed Organizational Structure to Judge Brody that designates six firms to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is essentially in charge of the litigation. The Exec Committee manages all administrative and financial matters, tracks time and expenses, and designates and organizes the subcommittees (e.g. discovery, legal, science, trial teams, etc.). The parties proposed the following six firms — twelve lawyers — to the Executive Committee:

  1. Sol Weiss & Larry Coben of Anapol Schwartz
  2. Thomas Girardi & Graham Lippsmith of Girardi Keese
  3. Michael Hausfeld & Richard Lewis of Hausfeld, LLP
  4. Gene Locks & David Langfitt of The Locks Law Firm
  5. Ricardo Martinez-Cid & Steven Marks of Podhurst Orseck
  6. Christopher Seeger & David Buchanan of Seeger Weiss, LLP

Next, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) — a subset of the Executive Committee — also has significant control of the litigation. As one lawyer involved in the litigation put it, “this is where the real action and control’s at.”  The PSC is responsible for conducting and coordinating all pre-trial discovery; acting as the spokesperson for all plaintiffs; coordinating, submitting and arguing all motions; deposing and examining witnesses; introducing evidence at hearings; and negotiating stipulations and settlements with defendants.  In addition to the 12 lawyers above, the following seven lawyers will serve on the Steering Committee:

  1. James Dugan of The Dugan Law Firm
  2. Anthony Tarricone of Kreindler & Kreindler
  3. Arnold Levin of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman
  4. Michael McGlamry of Pope McGlamry, P.C.
  5. Dianne Nast of RodaNast, PC
  6. David Rosen of Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP
  7. Charles Zimmerman of Zimmerman Reed

The next leadership position is the Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel, which essentially acts as the clerk for the plaintiffs. The Liaison Counsel is in charge of all administrative matters, such as receiving court Orders and Notices; preparing and transmitting copies of the Notices and Orders to all plaintiffs; maintaining all documents filed with the court; scheduling meetings with counsel; and circulating status reports to the lawyers. Jeannine M. Kenney of Hausfeld LLP will occupy this position.

Finally, the application provides for the creation of a Common Benefit Fee and Cost Fund. This fund is used to reimburse the attorneys for their fees and expenses incurred by the named committees above. The fund will be bankrolled by a percentage of any settlement reached in the lawsuits.

The foregoing proposal is subject to Judge Brody’s approval and should, in all likelihood, be granted. The parties will discuss this application with Judge Brody at the April 25th hearing in Philadelphia.

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