April 21, 2024

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The NFL is suing insurance companies over a Sunday Ticket antitrust lawsuit

The NFL is suing insurance companies over a Sunday Ticket antitrust lawsuit

With the NFL continuing to battle with insurance companies that (spoiler alert) don’t want to pay benefits in connection with concussion lawsuits and settlements, Big Shield is locked in a new battle with Big Insurance over coverage availability for a Sunday Ticket antitrust action filed against the NFL. America in 2015.

Sports attorney Daniel Wallach disclosed the lawsuit, filed last November, in a tweet. Wallach then sent the complaint and later filing to PFT — a document confirming that insurers have until March 13 to respond to the suit.

The outs go back to the origins of an industry based on taking money and, just under the right circumstances, paying out money. When a company’s only product is money, it doesn’t want to give money when it shouldn’t. You often don’t want to give money when you should.

In this specific case, the NFL claims that the insurance companies responsible for the “excess” coverage (in English, the NFL burned its main insurance policy and then switched to backups) refused to pay money that would have covered attorneys’ fees and expenses. The other is in defense against an antitrust case that is still pending. The NFL alleges that providers of excess coverage initially seemed to acknowledge a responsibility to provide coverage before changing their tune in 2021.

Excess insurers are allegedly trying to tie the 2015 antitrust case to a similar 1997 lawsuit, arguing that both orders amount to a single “claim” that precedes the insurance coverage the league is now trying to enforce.

The stakes are somewhat high. The complaint notes that the NFL has already exhausted the initial $10 million in available insurance, with all money supposed to pay only attorneys’ fees and expenses. (Maybe I should have continued practicing law after all.) The league is now trying to activate multiple layers of excess coverage, with policies covering $10 million to $20 million, $20 million to $30 million, $30 million to $40 million, $40 million to $50 million, and $50 to $60 million.

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Again, the Sunday Ticket antitrust case is still pending. Although we haven’t yet delved into this specific part of the litigation, potential antitrust issues with Sunday Ticket’s whole approach have always been hiding in plain sight. The league, and from 1994 through 2022, DirecTV, made the product available at one worldwide price for the entire season. All games are out of the market, with no ability to purchase weekends or individual games.

Regardless of whether the NFL wins or loses the case, legal fees and expenses will continue to rise. Already, more than $10 million has been incurred. How much money will be spent before the case is resolved?

Even if the NFL gets the $50 million in excess insurance the new lawsuit seeks, the league could look at paying more, depending on how the antitrust case goes. Regardless of the final price, the total revenue the NFL generated from Sunday Ticket’s all-or-nothing approach would dwarf it.