NFL Sued by Travelers Over Defending Player Injury Suits

The National Football League was sued by Travelers Cos., which is seeking to avoid having to defend the league against ex-players’ concussion-related lawsuits.

Units of the New York-based insurer said in documents filed today in New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan that they are obligated to defend NFL Properties, the league’s marketing company, not the league itself.

“Travelers has the right and duty to defend NFL Properties under the Travelers Primary NFL Properties Policies with respect to any ‘suit’ seeking ‘damages’ that are potentially within the coverage of those policies,” the companies said in the suit. “Travelers is not, however, required to defend or participate in the defense of the NFL.”

The NFL sued more than 30 insurance companies in California state court in Los Angeles last week, accusing them of refusing to pay for the defense of lawsuits over head injuries. The league said it is a defendant in at least 143 suits by former players and their wives.

“Last week, the NFL filed a comprehensive lawsuit in California against 32 insurers to ensure an orderly and comprehensive determination of its insurance rights and its carriers’ obligations,” Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the league, said in an e-mail. “This new filing by Travelers does not alter our objectives.”

Negligence Accusation

The NFL is accused of negligence and failing to inform players of the link between repeated traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries, including early onset of Alzheimer’s, dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to a so-called master complaint filed June 7 in federal court in Philadelphia, where 80 cases are consolidated.

The Travelers suit also names two dozen other insurers as defendants, including Alterra American Insurance Co., a division of Hamilton, Bermuda-based Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd. that filed a similar lawsuit against the NFL in New York state Supreme Court last week.

The insurers named as defendants may dispute Travelers’ position and may seek contribution from the company for defense costs or indemnity paid under policies issued to the NFL and/or NFL Properties, and Travelers may also seek contributions from those insurers, according to the complaint filed today.

The case is Discovery Property & Casualty Co. v. National Football League, 652933/2012, New York state Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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