Jimmie Giles: Legally Eligible for FULL Disability Benefits

Nov 23, 2012

Even Judge Judy would agree!

In one of the most public displays of just how far the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan and its overpaid NFL lawyers will go after a retired player during the process to access his earned disability benefits, US District Court Judge Ellen Hollander (District of Maryland) submitted her final 39-page ruling that very clearly details the many violations and fuzzy interpretations that the Plan and its lawyers have used over the years. Jimmie Giles (1977 – 1989: Oilers, Buccaneers, Lions, Eagles) had originally been awarded his Inactive Total & Permanent benefits (now called Inactive B) and the Plan and the NFL’s lawyers chose to aggressively deny his claim for Football Degenerative Total & Permanent benefits (now called Inactive A – got that?), leading to disability attorney John Hogan’s appeal on Jimmie’s behalf. The NFL’s law firm, Groom Law Group, publicly displayed some of the most egregious abuses of power and personal attacks on behalf of the Plan – all in their normal course of business-as-usual. At one point, they even tried to use the fact that Jimmie was “overweight” and it was pointed out to them that Jimmie’s teams had certainly never considered him overweight in his position as a tight end during his entire career! The Plan had been amended a few years ago to automatically accept an applicant’s Social Security designation as being Disabled, yet they continued to question and argue Jimmie’s actual “disability” going so far as to declare him still able to do “sedentary work” – as was also the case in Dave’s (and many others’) disability applications over the years. And their own Plan (the lawyers’) Questionnaire to their “neutral doctors” also continues to ask if a player was totally disabled as the Judge noted in her ruling.
It’s been a long wait for Jimmie and his family as they struggled to make ends meet during this drawn-out appeals process that dragged on through the summer after a lockout, a new CBA and everything else that went by over the past two years. But Judge Hollander appears to have taken a very thorough approach to address each of the arguments posed against Jimmie’s already well-documented case. (We uploaded a copy of this final ruling below as soon as it was available.)
One interesting observation: Jimmie Giles’ so-called Union, the NFLPA, has been nowhere to be seen at any time during Jimmie’s entire application process. No offers of assistance – legal or financial – during what has probably been the most difficult period of his life. In fact, the three alleged “retired players representatives” on the Disability Board had to have voted unanimously against Jimmie’s claim in lockstep with the three owners’ representatives in order for this case to drag out this far. Why has each member of the Board never been held accountable or sued for their ill-informed rulings? Would any AFL/CIO retiree in a REAL Union ever expect to be subjected to such an abuse of employees’ rights?
The ruling is posted on Scribd for easy viewing and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close):
Jimmie Giles vs Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Plan Final Ruling

9 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. David Carter
    November 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    David Carter

    Way to go, John Hogan and Jimmie Giles! Jimmie and I were in the same draft class for the Oilers and I am so happy he has finally won his long-deserved disability benefits.

    A large Thank You to John Hogan for staying the course and fighting for us.

    David Carter
    Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints
    1977 – 1985

  2. Henry Bradley
    November 24th, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Henry Bradley

    Jimmie –

    I am happy for you and your family. I get Inactive Disability. What can I do to get my full disability?

    Henry Bradley
    Cleveland Browns
    1979 – 1983

  3. NFL Fights Obesity — Obesity Fights NFL « Concussion Inc. – Author Irvin Muchnick
    November 24th, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    […] Independent Football Veterans organizer and blogger Dave Pear chronicles Giles’ win over the league in federal court in Maryland. Judge Ellen Hollander’s ruling is a thorough demolition of the illogic of the NFL retirement board (on which Players Association appointees, such as the late Dave Duerson, sit alongside management reps). See “Jimmie Giles: Legally Eligible for FULL Disability Benefits,” http://davepear.com/blog/2012/11/jimmie-giles-legally-eligible-for-full-disability-benefits/. […]

  4. John Hogan
    November 24th, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    John Hogan


    Thanks for posting the decision in Jimmie Giles’ disability case. I’m getting a lot of calls and e-mails about it so I would appreciate it if you would add the following comments:

    First, it was a privilege to appear in Judge Hollander’s court; and she is nothing like Judge Judy!

    Second, Jimmie’s claim for football degenerative benefits has not been granted yet; rather, the Judge has struck down the reasons the Plan had used to deny this claim: The opinion of the Plan’s non-examining medical director, Dr. Haas, cannot be used to deny his claim. He is the one who came up with the obesity issue – despite the fact that a player’s height and weight are not a part of the standard Plan examination. Next, when the Plan sent Jimmie for a neutral physician examination with Dr. Perry, the only issue was whether Jimmie’s disability was football-related. The Plan had already accepted the fact that he was disabled by virtue of his favorable Social Security determination. However, the Plan failed to inform Dr. Perry of this and they sent him their standard physician questionnaire – which had been in use since BEFORE the Plan accepted a favorable Social Security decision – and it asked whether the player was totally disabled. Dr. Perry was of the opinion that Jimmie was not totally disabled but that all of his impairments were football-related. Judge Hollander’s opinion indicates that Dr. Perry’s opinion on the issue of whether Jimmie is disabled is irrelevant.

    The last significant issue was whether the Retirement Board ever had the chance to see and evaluate the 1996 opinion from the Plan’s Medical Advisor Physician, Dr. Tria, that Jimmie was limited to sedentary work as a result of his football injuries. Back in 1996 – before the Plan accepted a favorable Social Security decision – that meant that Jimmie’s case was denied. As this report was part of Jimmie’s file which I received from the Groom Law Group, I had been operating under the assumption that everyone else had access to it. It became clear to me that Dr. Haas NEVER saw it and thus was unable to “connect the dots” between the 1996 opinion and Social Security’s disability determination. It was also clear to me that the Retirement Board never saw this report when they were evaluating Jimmie’s current claim – and thus, they too were unable to “connect the dots.” However, Judge Hollander could not be certain from the record before her if the Retirement Board had seen this report and thus she sent it back to them to re-evaluate Jimmie’s claim for Football Degenerative benefits in accord with her decision.

    While I am quite certain that the Board did not get a chance to review Dr. Tria’s 1996 report, they were presented with several of my letters referencing same. I don’t know if they never read my letters (which they are required to do under ERISA Regulations) or if they did but just didn’t care. Either choice appears to be a huge failure of their required fiduciary duty of skill and care owed to all retired players.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  5. Dave Pear
    November 24th, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    Dave & Heidi.jpg

    Great job, John and Jimmie!

    The Groom Law Group only submits selected medical reports at selected times in an effort to scam all of the Jimmie Giles’ and their families over the years. I’m glad that the judge saw through this ruse. A US Department of Labor audit would expose the fraud being perpetrated against retired players by The Groom Law Group and the Bell/Rozelle Disability board who have absolutely NO qualifications. It’s shameful enough that each of these different people go out of their way to harm retirees but when you have former players on the Disability Board going along with it, there is no excuse – legally or morally – that they can hide behind forever.

    So just where IS the NFLPA? They should be standing up for the rights of Jimmie and his family. What about De Smith’s great slogan; “One Team One Locker Room”? De, where are you? You need to surface and stand up for ALL the Jimmie Giles’ and their families.

    Keep up the great work, John.

    Dave & Heidi Pear

  6. George Visger
    November 24th, 2012 at 11:20 am #

    George Visger Brain Scans

    Great job to Jimmie Giles and family and John Hogan! Especially to Jimmie and your family for persevering through this nightmare for as long as you have. And just to access your “earned” benefits.

    Dave brought up a good point: De Smith – where were (are) you? And where is the NFLPA for families like the Gileses? This is not a rhetorical question, De. We all know you read this Blog (or have someone who reads it for you). So please respond.

    The definition of a REAL Labor Union is: “An association, combination, or organization of employees who band together to secure favorable wages, improved working conditions, and better work hours, and to resolve grievances against employers.”

    De, one of the responsibilities for which you’re being paid millions of dollars per year is clearly stated in the last 5 words in the above definition: “TO RESOLVE GRIEVANCES AGAINST EMPLOYERS.” Where were you when the Giles needed help all these years trying “to resolve his grievance against his employer?” And you’ve bragged about and promoted your AFL/CIO affiliation proudly. In fact, where’s the AFL/CIO when we really need them? Maybe their leadership is too busy enjoying those free Super Bowl tickets you probably give them every year…

    This is a very serious question, De. Where has the NFLPA been through ALL of our battles? I would think the NFLPA would embrace an opportunity to secure earned benefits for each of its paying union members. I’m not trying to be sarcastic, De. Maybe my uninhibited questions may be due in part to the NFL-caused damage to the frontal lobe of my brain. But I’m sure an intelligent attorney such as yourself is aware of the fact the frontal lobe controls judgment. Those of us ignorant enough to have played in the NFL while expecting our union to secure and protect our earned benefits have all been forced to learn this fact the hard way. For me, it was during the years of legal battles to win my Workers Comp case. I may be showing poor judgment by asking this question, De, but then again, I’m suffering from NFL-caused brain damage.

    We all anxiously await your response, De.

    Again, to the Giles Family and John Hogan: God bless you all.

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  7. Mike Haynes
    November 24th, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Mike Haynes


    Mike Haynes
    New England Patriots, LA Raiders
    1976 – 1989

  8. Dirk Knudsen
    November 24th, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Dirk Knudsen

    At last, perhaps a ray of light for you guys. This is one of the first favorable decisions we have seen and God knows what Jimmie and all you great Veterans have had to go through. Shame on the NFLPA for their deceit and manipulation towards their current and especially their retired Members.

    I have not watched NFL football since I went to my first Funeral for a High School football player who died being pushed to perform. He was playing with a concussion and died of Second Impact Syndrome.

    5 Funerals and hundreds of hurt kids later, I see one main culprit: And it is to me the dirtiest 3-letter word in the world.

    God Bless all you guys in your fight.

    Best Regards,
    Dirk Knudsen

  9. Ed White
    November 26th, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Ed White

    FIGHT ON!!!

    Ed White
    Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers
    1969 – 1985