NCAA to Pay $70 Million in Concussion Accord: Business of Law

The National Collegiate Athletic Association agreed to pay $70 million for the testing and diagnosis of student athletes who may have suffered concussions in competition over the past 50 years.

The agreement is part of a proposed settlement of almost a dozen head-injury lawsuits filed against college athletics’ main governing body that was announced yesterday by the NCAA and plaintiffs’ lawyers including Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

The accord, which doesn’t cover individual claims for bodily injuries, is subject to the approval of U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee.

The agreement with the Indianapolis-based NCAA includes changes to its concussion management guidelines, requires evaluations at the start of each sport’s season and bars a player who suffers a concussion from returning to play that day. An athlete with a concussion must be seen by a doctor before being cleared to play, according to yesterday’s filing.

Federal cases in Chicago, New York, Indianapolis and elsewhere accusing the NCAA of concealing the long-term risks of concussions were consolidated before Lee for pretrial litigation last year.

Similar claims by professional football players against the National Football League resulted in a preliminary settlement worth at least $675 million. That deal includes an uncapped fund to cover retired players’ medical costs from dementia and other neurological disorders tied to repeated concussions. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia scheduled a Nov. 19 hearing on final approval of the NFL settlement.

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UBS, Deutsche Bank’s Earnings Overshadowed by Litigation Costs

UBS AG and Deutsche Bank AG’s better-than-estimated second-quarter earnings were overshadowed by the disclosure of new regulatory probes as the banks struggle to boost revenue.

While Deutsche Bank and UBS posted “clean” pretax profits ahead of estimates, “the focus remains on capital at risk from litigation,” Kian Abouhossein and Amit Ranjan, analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said yesterday in a note.

UBS, which settled a German tax investigation for about 302 million euros ($406 million) this month, said yesterday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating its dark pool private-trading venue since early 2012. Deutsche Bank, whose legal costs totaled 3 billion euros last year, said it’s responding to requests for information from regulators about high-frequency trading.

UBS and Deutsche Bank, the largest lenders in Switzerland and Germany, respectively, are not alone in grappling with spiraling regulatory investigations.

European banks may still face $50 billion in litigation costs after paying fines and setting aside funds worth $82.3 billion, Morgan Stanley analysts estimated last week.

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Lawsuit News

NLRB Determines That McDonald’s Is Employer to Franchise Workers

McDonald’s Corp. is a joint employer with its franchise owners, the National Labor Relations Board determined in a ruling that may shake up the fast-food franchise system.

The NLRB’s general counsel found that McDonald’s has enough power over its individual franchises to be considered an employer, according to representatives for plaintiff lawyers in the case. The company said it has a hands-off approach to managing employees and yesterday objected to the decision.

McDonald’s, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, said the ruling would unfairly change the rules.

“This decision to allow unfair labor practice complaints to allege that McDonald’s is a joint employer with its franchisees is wrong,” Heather Smedstad, the restaurant chain’s senior vice president of human resources, said in a statement. “McDonald’s will contest this allegation in the appropriate forum.”

Law Firm Moves

Laterals Join Gordon & Rees, Quarles & Brady, Neal Gerber

William Mills IV has joined Gordon & Rees LLP’s Philadelphia office as a partner in the environmental/toxic-tort, construction, drug and medical device, international and tort and product-liability practice groups. Mills was formerly the chairman of the product-liability department of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby LLP. Also joining the firm from Weber Gallagher is associate Megan Bailey.

Andre Fiebig joined Quarles & Brady LLP as a partner in the corporate services practice group in Chicago. Prior to joining the firm, Fiebig, who specializes in corporate and antitrust law, was a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP.

Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP hired Ronald Betman as a partner in the firm’s general and commercial litigation practice group. Betman, who specializes in class actions and complex litigation, was most recently a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP.

Ronald Sigworth has joined Bass, Berry & Sims PLC as a member in the firm’s Washington office. An intellectual-property lawyer, Sigworth previously practiced at Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP.


Willis Reed Inspires Skadden’s Roberts to Govern NBA’s Union

Michele Roberts’s love of basketball stems from simple arithmetic: two older brothers, one TV.

“We watched a lot of basketball,” said Roberts, who was named executive director of the NBA players’ association yesterday, making her the first woman to lead a major pro sports union in the U.S. “And when you watch basketball, can’t help but love it.”

A litigator in the Washington office of the National Basketball Association’s outside counsel, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Roberts said she grew up in the South Bronx without enough money to go see her favorite team, the New York Knicks. “I loved that 1969-70 team,” she said. “Willis Reed became my lifetime hero.”

“It wasn’t until I became a lawyer that I could afford to see live basketball -- the Bullets,” she said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News, referring to the NBA’s team in Washington, now called the Wizards. “Hence, my adoption of the Wizards as my now former favorite team. My new favorite team is the NBPA.”

“What a great choice,” said Jeff Mishkin, who spent seven years as the NBA’s chief legal officer, leaving in 1999 to join Skadden Arps. “Michele is a spectacularly talented trial lawyer and we will miss her very much. Those skills will make her an exceptional leader of the Players Association.”

She didn’t participate in NBA cases at Skadden Arps, focusing instead on civil and white-collar criminal litigation.

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