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Judge OKs $14M fees for lawyers who sued NCAA over athlete concussions

Federal Court

By Scott Holland | Aug 19, 2019


NCAA Headquarters | By Momoneymoproblemz [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO — A federal judge has signed off on a settlement that ends a sprawling legal action concerning the NCAA’s handling of student-athlete concussions, deliving more than $14 million to several firms involved in the litigation.

U.S. District Judge John Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued an order approving the settlement Aug. 13, bringing an end to an action that started with a 2011 lawsuit filed by former Eastern Illinois University football player Adrian Arrington, alleging the NCAA mistreated athletes who suffered head injuries while playing football and other NCAA-sanctioned sports.

In 2016, the NCAA and the plaintiffs submitted a proposed settlement with Lee, calling for an end to the litigation in exchange for the NCAA’s agreement to spend $70 million to institute a medical monitoring program for current and former college athletes, and to institute other “corrective measures” to better address athletes’ health and safety at official NCAA-sanctioned games and events.


Steve Berman | Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

As part of that proposal, the NCAA said it would not object to paying plaintiffs’ attorney fees of $15 million, and paying class representatives $2,500 to $5,000 each. But on Jan. 13, 2017, attorneys representing a dozen firms requested a total of $21 million in legal fees for their work on the matter.

Lee’s Aug. 13 order authorized $750,000 in class counsel expenses as well as the following individual fee amounts totaling more than $12.2 million:

  • Steven W. Berman and Elizabeth A. Fegan, of the co-lead counsel firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP of Seattle and Chicago, will get about $8.3 million.
  • Joseph J. Siprut, of Siprut P.C., of Chicago, co-lead counsel, $2 million.
  • Charles Zimmerman, of the Zimmerman Reed, of Minneapolis, $528,509.
  • Richard Lewis, of Hausfeld LLP, of Washington D.C., $975,096.
  • Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC, $34,374.
  • Provosty and Gankendorff LLC, $40,564.
  • J. Selmer Law P.A., $51,729.
  • Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP, $60,656.
  • DeFeo & Kolker LLC, $75,592.
  • TLW & Associates LLC, $70,556.
  • Branstetter Stranch & Jennings PLLC, $6,584.
  • Shindler Anderson Goplerud Weese PC, $80,701.
Lee’s order also authorized $1.4 million in fees and costs for objectors’ counsel firms:

  • Jay Edelson, Rafey Balabanian, Ari Scharg and Benjamin Thomassen of Edelson PC. Chicago, about $1.3 million
  • Gordon Law Offices Ltd., $87,806.
  • Dwight Jefferson of Coats Rose PC, $57,950 in fees. 
  • Clifford Law Offices PC, $15,300.
Class representatives Derek Owens, Kyle Solomon and Angelica Palacios will receive $5,000 service awards, as will objector Adrian Arrington, while 22 others will get $2,500 service awards, including lead objector Anthony Nichols.

Edelson had sought $5,000 for Nichols, saying, “At least $50 million, or more than two-thirds of the settlement’s value, can be traced to changes forced by Nichols’ objections.”

The class includes anyone who was an NCAA athlete up to July 15, 2016. Lee also certified, for settlement purposes only, subclasses for those who played contact sports and those who played noncontact sports.

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Organizations in this Story

Edelson, PC Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, LLP NCAA Siprut PC U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Chicago Division

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