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Early Withdrawal?

13 December 2012

Apparently, Hausfeld LLP has formally filed to withdraw from representing SOME of the lead plaintiffs in a class but he still wants to stay directly involved by representing the other plaintiffs (can you actually do that?!!). Then the presiding judge issued a Scheduling Order that appoints Dan Gustafson of Gustafson Gluek PLLC as Lead Settlement Counsel to represent the “class” without a further hearing or discussion. So if there is a class of retired football players being acknowledged, then why is there a gag order? Does this mean that your case can be settled without your approval?
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We’ve just uploaded a copy of a new Notice of Withdrawal filed on Wednesday by Hausfeld LLP along with the Judge’s latest order to 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):
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Hausfeld Notice of Withdrawal
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USDC Minnesota Dec 12 2012 Scheduling Order – Dryer vs NFL
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This Order from Judge Magnuson was just made available in court records late this morning on the NFL Films lawsuit.
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Order Denying NFLs Partial Summary Judgment Motion
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So it all started last week with a letter we received from Bob Lurtsema that basically outlined his understanding of what had happened in a Settlement Conference on the NFL Films lawsuit that included: Several retired football players (and a few guys who weren’t), a whole lot of lawyers from the NFL and Hausfeld LLP, along with the original Plaintiff Attorneys Bob Stein, Tom Ward and several of the original Plaintiffs who hadn’t even been invited or flown in to the meeting by some of the attorneys. Thanks to the First Amendment that guarantees our right to Freedom of Speech, you can still read that original letter from Bob Lurtsema by clicking HERE.
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We were happy to post Bob’s views online as we have generally done in the past with communications from so many other retired players; especially since it was an update that a lot of our readers have been trying to follow since the NFL Films lawsuit began last year. Well, 24 hours after we posted Bob’s overview, it seems that certain attorneys including the NFL’s lawyers decided they didn’t think the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech) applied to our Blog. First, Dave received an e-mail from Hausfeld LLP with a copy of a gag order and a “DRAFT” copy of a letter warning all parties to the suit, signed by Michael Hausfeld and Charles Zimmerman from September. (Has anyone actually received a real copy of this letter or was it simply nothing more than a ‘DRAFT‘ that was circulated to intimidate or stop outsiders from talking about the case? Nothing – NOTHING – in the gag order even infers that the media or blogs are prohibited from gathering information on this case and publishing it.) Would some of you please read the very short gag order and tell us if you see anything specifically banning the media or outside parties from writing about any of this, as Hausfeld’s ‘DRAFT‘ warning seems to infer? PLEASE NOTE: Dave Pear is currently NOT a named Plaintiff in the NFL Films lawsuit and has NOT been invited to attend any of the discussions.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: We received this first-hand report from retired player, Bob Lurtsema, who was one of the “uninvited players” who showed up last week along with Bob Stein and many of the Plaintiffs in the NFL Films lawsuit Status Conference. Each and every retired player needs to read Bob’s words of caution closely and send in their comments.
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Fellow retired players -
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I attended the court-ordered Status Conference in the Dryer v. NFL case on November 27 in Minneapolis to see what was up. What I saw was an attempted sell-out and ambush by the NFL and Michael Hausfeld to force Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs to accept the NFL’s offer. The NFL and Hausfeld tried to pit players against players.
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Hausfeld brought along 10 or so non-Plaintiff retired players to support him. They were part of a secret group he organized to try to control the Dryer lawsuit payments. We discovered that one guy they brought in had never even been an NFL player! He paid for their travel but refused to pay for the original Plaintiffs’ travel as required by his retainer agreements with them.
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The original Plaintiffs who started the case were not even allowed in Hausfeld’s player meeting. When all the plaintiff attorneys met with all the players there, I was surprised the Magistrate openly pushed for the NFL deal (a very low offer of $50 million total), cut off Bob Stein who pointed out major shortcomings to the deal and then let Hausfeld ramble on to try and sell it. Right after that meeting, Hausfeld rushed out to confer with the NFL lawyers.
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The NFL-Hausfeld proposal, opposed by all original Plaintiffs (Fred Dryer, Jim Marshall, Joe Senser, Dan Pastorini, Elvin Bethea, Ed White) and Bob Stein, stunk to me. Under the NFL-Hausfeld proposal, NO player would be paid for using his rights …ever! Each retired player would give up all his NFL-related publicity rights forever and any money would only go to the neediest of player charity programs. The only ones getting paid are the lawyers!
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The proposal didn’t even have a guaranteed payment amount since all costs of opt-out player lawsuits against the NFL will be paid out of the settlement money! A very small group of players (Hausfeld’s?) would also be put in control of where the money goes. All of us would have to release our publicity rights (pictures, film of play, autographs) forever – and except for possible charity payments – will get paid nothing in the future. The Licensing Agency it set up looks just like the NFL Alumni Program – which LOST $5 million. So I don’t see what we’re getting for giving up claims to what Stein described as “the multi-billion dollar NFL Films vault” and over $150 million/year the NFL makes from using us in NFL Films.
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The NFL-Hausfeld proposal will pay $42 million (after $8 million in legal fees are paid) over 12 years, with all of it going only to charity programs. That amounts to under $15/month for each of the 20,000+ players whose rights would also be signed away. Of course, the lawyers would get paid $8 million up front immediately. Looks to me like each of us will gain absolutely nothing from the NFL-Hausfeld settlement and only the NFL and the lawyers win. No wonder Bob Stein and all the original Plaintiffs think it’s an inadequate deal. After all, over those 12 years when the NFL would be paying out about $3.5 million a year, they would make over $1.8 billion using us in NFL Films! After that, they would then pay nothing more and use our rights forever!
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Bob Stein and the original Plaintiffs all want a deal where every player who gives up his rights forever knows in advance what he would personally get for it, either in dollars or health care benefits …and that it should be enough to mean something.
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I didn’t know why other players besides the Plaintiffs were there but it seemed they were trying to set up the illusion of a “support vote” from guys who were not even Plaintiffs, all without opening the meeting to ALL retired players, just to pressure the original Plaintiffs to go along. Other retired players did not even know about this Status Conference and I only heard about it at the last minute. Hausfeld’s guys were mostly for the deal but ALL the original Plaintiffs and Stein opposed it. I still don’t see the point of the Status Conference but I do see the NFL-Hausfeld deal as bogus and completely one-sided.
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I am against accepting it and wanted all of you to know why. But it should be your own call to make.
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Bob Lurtsema
Baltimore Colts, New York Giants
Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks
1967 – 1977
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