Irv Muchnick: Beware of Backroom Dealing

Nov 26, 2012

Posted with the express consent of Irv Muchnick from his blog Concussion Inc.:
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Dan Pastorini Malpractice Suit Against Class Action Firm Hints Settlement Talks Already Under Way With NFL

Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing

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Published November 26th, 2012
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In a potentially explosive turn of events, Dan Pastorini, one of the named plaintiffs in the alpha dog class-action suit against the National Football League by the Hausfeld law firm in Washington, D.C., has filed a malpractice claim against Hausfeld in Texas state court. Dave Pear’s blog links to the full complaint – click HERE.
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I begin my analysis by reiterating that the base game in the new awareness of traumatic brain injury is the future of the sport. By that, I mean football’s off-the-charts popularity and participation at all levels. Claims by retired professionals are very important for themselves and their families, of course, but they are only a game within that game.
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Pastorini, the outspoken former quarterback who is dissatisfied with his legal representation, has thrown a touch pass of TNT into the flat of the game within the game within the game.
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I am myself an objector of nearly eight years’ standing against a proposed multimillion-dollar copyright infringement settlement between freelance writers and the periodicals and electronic database industries. (The case was known at the U.S. Supreme Court as Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick. We have been in settlement talks with the main parties for much of this year and hope we have a final settlement in the very near future. For details, see my other blog – click HERE.
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So I am a semi-seasoned lay observer of class actions and their discontents. As such, I do not share the belief of some others that the current litigation against the NFL has a real chance of bankrupting it. Even if the combined cases take a $10 billion chunk out of the league’s hide – the number is arbitrary and purely hypothetical – the 32 franchises still could collectively absorb that and carry on with their quest for world domination half the year, 8 p.m. Eastern time Thursday through midnight Tuesday morning.
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In an earlier era of blockbuster lawsuits impacting the public health debate, tobacco company executives managing billions in payouts, who didn’t smoke themselves, easily mastered their lines about the long-term viability of the “social custom” they were dutifully marketing. As the father of daughters, not sons, who never were in consideration to play football, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t even have to worry about the smoking part of that analogy.
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In Pastorini’s extremely well-crafted court papers, his immediate material claim is that Hausfeld did not honor an agreement to reimburse him for travel expenses. But the stick of dynamite is the allegation that Hausfeld has ignored repeated attempts by Pastorini to obtain “information and communications with the NFL’s representatives,” and the assertion that the matter is urgent in light of an upcoming status conference in the case on November 27. Which is tomorrow!
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Despite Hausfeld’s attempt to tar Pastorini as a “professional objector” (I am familiar with this odious tactic), Pastorini is not technically an objector: There is not yet a settlement to which to object. Nonetheless, his preemptive dissidence stings, especially in the passages of the brief where he details Hausfeld’s allegedly unsavory history in representing the interests of classes.
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Regardless of what happens to Pastorini’s malpractice claim, the NFL and Hausfeld will be highly suspect if they attempt to announce a settlement of this complex and emotional case in the very near future.
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Irvin Muchnick is author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (2009) and WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death, and Scandal (2007). He is a widely published magazine journalist and has appeared on forums as diverse as Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor,” National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross,” and ESPN’s “Up Close.” Muchnick is lead respondent in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for freelance writers’ rights, Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick.
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2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Ron Pritchard
    November 26th, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    Ron Pritchard

    Back in the day, my-off season work was professional wrestling. Ernie Ladd and I would fly around the country for different promoters and put on a great show. Not a lot of money for our act but still lots of interesting people in that line of work. One thing I will always remember is some of the different titles that were placed on you by either the wrestler or a particular fan. The “good guy” was referred to as the “babyface” and the bad guy was the “heel” in the ring. The whole idea of pro wrestling was to make it as real as possible. To a non-wrestling fan, it was clearly an act played out by the actors in the ring. But to the diehard wrestling fan, it was all real from beginning to end! The promoters would refer to that kind of fan as a “mark.” Someone that could be deceived by the wrestling business time and time again as being true and above board.

    Well, boys, it now appears we have a law firm that’s looking at us as “marks” in the Dryer class action suit. I guess we have somehow been an easy target for these people and it appears that they can keep deceiving us with their bad behavior and still call it good! Now a third party in the Dryer case (two others have already tried to shame this group to conform) is being forced to sue this group of lawyers (promoters) for truthful information in our case.

    Once again, apples are apples, oranges are oranges and honest men are transparent and dishonest men are not!

    Ron Pritchard
    Houston Oilers, Cincinnati Bengals
    1969 – 1977

  2. Tom Baugh
    November 26th, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Tom Baugh

    Well said, Dave, Dan, Irv & Ron…

    Tom Baugh
    1986 – 1989
    Kansas City Chiefs & Cleveland Browns