NFL Bi-Coastal Insurance Coverage Litigation - Mired in Procedural Quagmires


  • Starting in July of 2011, the NFL and Riddell, the helmet manufacturer, began facing a barrage of suits from more than 3700 former NFL players who have alleged that concussions and other injuries sustained during their NFL careers had resulted in brain and other neurological damage and that the defendants failed to warn them of the dangers and participated in a cover up (among other theories).
  • The NFL and Riddell tendered these suits to their insurers, some of whom denied any defense or indemnity obligations.
  • Thereafter the bi-coastal coverage battles began.





  • On April 12, 2012, Riddell filed a declaratory judgment action against 13 of its insurers in Los Angeles Superior Court, putting at issue 37 primary and excess policies issued from 1959 through 2011. [Riddell v. Ace American Ins. Co., BC482698]
  • On August 15, 2012, the NFL filed suit in California superior court against 32 general liability insurers that issued 187 primary and excess insurance policies over a period of 44 years. [NFL v. v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co, BC490342]. The NFL also sued “Doe” insurers that issued policies to Riddell, claiming additional insured status.



  • Meanwhile – on August 13, 2012, two days prior to the NFL filing its coverage suit, Alterra American Insurance Company, a high level excess insurer,  filed a declaratory judgment action in New York state court against the NFL . [Alterra America Ins. Co.v. NFL, #652813/2012]

·         On August 21, 2012, Travelers filed its own declaratory judgment action against the NFL in NY state court, naming two dozen other insurers.  [Discovery Prop. & Cas. Co. v. NFL,# 652933/2012]


  • On Aug. 22, 2012, Alterra amended its NY complaint to name 29 insurers that were parties to the CA coverage action. 


  • The NFL and Riddell declaratory judgment actions were deemed to be “related” and both cases were assigned to the judge presiding over the Riddell Action.
  • All of the insurers (but one) moved to stay or dismiss the NFL coverage action in CA on forum non conveniens grounds. On Nov. 28, 2012 the court granted the motion to stay the NFL policyholders’ action in deference to the Alterra lawsuit filed in NY. 
  • The NFL has appealed the forum non conveniens ruling and stay order. It has already filed its appellant’s brief. The insurers-appellees brief is due March 6, 2013. [Cal. Ct of Appeal, Second Appellate Dist., #B245619]



  • The Alterra NY action isn’t going anywhere either!   The NFL has filed a motion to stay or dismiss that action with prejudice, based on the prior filed more comprehensive NFL coverage action in CA. That motion won’t be heard until March 15, 2013. The court stayed all discovery while the motion to dismiss is pending. 
  • As for the NY action filed by Travelers, NFL has moved to dismiss that action on the same bases as the Alterra suit. That motion has been fully briefed and is awaiting decision.


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