Archive for August, 2013

NFL Settles With Ex-Players for $765 Million in Concussion Suit

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 Leave a comment

According to, the NFL has reached a “tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.

Here is a summary, courtesy of, of the key terms of the agreement from the press release issued by

Class settlement: The settlement will include all players who have retired as of the date on which the Court grants preliminary approval to the settlement agreement, their authorized representatives, or family members (in the case of a former player who is decease.

No Admissions of Liability or Weakness of Claims: The settlement does not represent, and cannot be considered, an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football. Nor is it an acknowledgement by the plaintiffs of any deficiency in their case. Instead, it represents a decision by both sides to compromise their claims and defenses, and to devote their resources to benefit retired players and their families, rather than litigate these cases.

Payments: The NFL and NFL Properties will make payments in connection with the settlement as follows:

(A) Baseline medical exams, the cost of which will be capped at $75 million;

(B) A separate fund of $675 million to compensate former players who have suffered cognitive injury or their families;

(C) A separate research and education fund of $10 million;

(D) The costs of notice to the members of the class, which will not exceed $4 million;

(E) $2 million, representing one half of the compensation of the Settle ment Administrator for a period of 20 years; and

(F) Legal fees and litigation expenses to the plaintiffs’ counsel, which amounts will be set by the District Court

Timing of Payments: If the settlement receives final approval, and any appeals have been concluded, the NFL will pay approximately 50 percent of the settlement amount over three years, and the balance over the next 17 years.

Injury Compensation Fund: The fund of at least $675 million will be available to pay monetary awards to retired players who present medical evidence of severe cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, ALS, or to their families. The precise amount of compensation will be based upon the specific diagnosis, as well as other factors including age, number of seasons played in the NFL, and other relevant medical conditions. These determinations will be made by independent doctors working with settlement administrators appointed by the District Court.

So who got the better end of the deal? The settlement appears to make only a slight dent on the NFL’s ability to reap enormous profits from America’s most popular sport. On the other hand, former players will be able to start receiving payments sooner rather than later.

See also: Judge Anita Brody’s order

Johnny Manziel Suspended for First-Half of Texas A&M’s Opener

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 Leave a comment

Tonight’s game between #6 South Carolina and North Carolina kicks off the 2013 college football season. To say the least, I am excited about another year of SEC domination.

The big news, though, going into college football’s opening weekend is the announcement that Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel of #7 Texas A&M has been suspended for the first half of Saturday’s season opener against the Rice Owls. According to a joint statement released by Texas A&M and the NCAA, there was no evidence that Manziel received payment for signing autographs.

Here are some further details about Manziel’s suspension from ESPN:

The NCAA and A&M agreed on the one-half suspension because Manziel violated NCAA bylaw, an NCAA representative confirmed. The rule says student-athletes cannot permit their names or likenesses to be used for commercial purposes, including to advertise, recommend or promote sales of commercial products, or accept payment for the use of their names or likenesses.

The half-game suspension for Manziel appears odd for a number of reasons, namely because  (1) there is no evidence of payment yet a penalty is still being levied and (2) assuming you believe that Manziel likely received payment for autographs, Dez Bryant and Terrel Pryor received much harsher penalties (10 games for Bryant and 5 games for Pryor) for violations that were worth far less than those alleged against Manziel.

While it appears that Johnny Football came out on top so far, he may not be out of the woods just yet. In its joint statement, the NCAA stated that “[i]f additional information comes to light, the NCAA will review and consider if further action is appropriate.

I would be lying, though, if I didn’t admit that I want to see Manziel play. The kid is a stud on the field and I’m ready to see if he can match or exceed his Heisman-caliber play from last year.

See also: Johnny Manziel’s Half-Game Suspension Reflects Half-Witted NCAA Justice (Forbes)

Simple Breakdown of the Middle East

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 Leave a comment

Understanding the connections and relationships between the various actors in Middle Eastern affairs is generally considered a complicated task. That said, Slate put together a concise visual that lays out the rivalries and alliances in the Middle East.


If the above visual still confuses you, here is a synopsis from a letter to the editor published in last Thursday’s Financial Times that summarizes the entire Middle East in a few short sentences:

Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf states are against Assad!

Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi.

But Gulf states are pro-Sisi! Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood!

Iran is pro-Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood!

Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the U.S.!

Gulf states are pro-U.S. But Turkey is with Gulf states against Assad; yet Turkey is pro-Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi. And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf states!

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.

Hat Tip: The Washington Post

Legal Costs for Major U.S. Banks Exceed $100 Billion

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 Leave a comment

According to Bloomberg, the U.S.’s six largest banks have accumulated legal costs of $103 billion so far since the financial crisis. Legal fees and litigation costs account for $56 billion and the rest is for payments to mortgage investors. Interestingly, the sum of the banks’ legal costs is equivalent to spending $51 million a day, enough to erase everything the banks earned for 2012.

JPMorgan’s (JPM) legal bill is $21.3 billion and it has allocated $8.1 billion for mortgage buybacks. Similarly, Bank of America’s (BAC) legal expenses are $19.1 billion and it has set aside $28.6 billion for repurchases since 2008. The other banks included in Bloomberg’s report subject to significant legal bills are Citigroup (C), Wells Fargo (WFC), Goldman Sachs (GS), and Morgan Stanley (MS).

Bloomberg also noted the following:

The legal process could be extended if the U.S. attorney general brings more cases and unearths information that can be used in new lawsuits. While some cases have a five-year statute of limitations, those involving bank frauds have a deadline that’s twice as long. The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, known as FIRREA, has a 10-year limit, and the U.S. used the law against JPMorgan and Bank of America.

“It’s likely the financial institutions don’t yet know of some of these lawsuits,” said Walter J. Mix III, head of financial-institutions consulting at Berkeley Research Group LLC and a former commissioner of the California Department of Financial Institutions. “The litigation can go on for 10 years or more.”

Source: U.S. Bank Legal Bills Exceed $100 Billion (Bloomberg)

Western Military Forces Around Syria

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 Leave a comment

Things are heating up in Washington with respect to how the U.S. should respond to a chemical weapons attack that the U.S. government believes was carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Given the uncertainty surrounding the region, here’s a look at two key maps.

The first is a map of Western military assets around Syria. The second is a map of possible Syrian targets.

syria map

Source: Business Insider

Tuition & Duration of Law School On the Hot Seat

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 Leave a comment

Even President Obama, a former Constitutional Law professor, recently weighed in on the law school debate by suggesting that a third year of law school may not be necessary. While law school tuition continues to rise, the number of legal jobs has notably not kept pace with the increased costs.

So should law schools do away with a mandatory third year (note that some law schools may not require a third year but still require three years worth of credit – in other words, students still pay for three years)? Elie Mystal at Above The Law had an interesting take on this issue and the President’s comments. Here’s an excerpt:

Regardless of what you think about the value of the 3L year, the timing of Obama’s announcement is certainly curious. In June, Obama’s own Department of Education rubber-stamped ABA oversight over law school regulation and accreditation for another three years. Since the ABA is the organization most responsible for keeping law school at three years and preventing schools from experimenting with shorter programs, I can only assume that Obama’s statement was timed to be as useless as humanly possible…


Source: WSJ

Twitter Benefits for Small Businesses [Infographic]

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 Leave a comment

According to a survey conducted by global research firm Market Probe International, small businesses may be wise to reevaluate how they’re using Twitter to increase sales and engage consumers. The below infographic details the key takeaways from the survey.


Hat Tip: National Law Forum

Steve Ballmer’s Missed Opportunities as Microsoft’s CEO

Sunday, August 25th, 2013 Leave a comment

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO since 2000, plans to retire within the next year. While successfully managing a big company like Microsoft is no easy task, Ballmer’s missed opportunities have been well documented. Interestingly, upon news of Ballmer’s impending retirement, Microsoft’s stock surged, making Ballmer worth about a billion dollars more than he was on earlier in the week (albeit causing a possible blow to his ego).

The New Yorker noted a rather grim summary of Ballmer’s reign as Microsoft’s CEO:

When he took control, in 2000, Microsoft was one of the most powerful and feared companies in the world. It had a market capitalization of around five hundred billion dollars, the highest of any company on earth. Developers referred to it as an “evil empire.” As he leaves, it’s a sprawling shadow. It still has cash—but that matters little.

In what some call Microsoft’s “lost decade,” here’s a list of six opportunities missed by the tech giant during Ballmer’s tenure as CEO, courtesy of Bloomberg:

  1. Mobile
  2. Music
  3. Tablets
  4. Web Search
  5. Innovation at Scale
  6. Corporate Management

Going forward, will Microsoft follow a path more like Dell (stuck in the PC business), IBM (successful transition to business services), or become more like Google (finding success in search, mobile, and anything else under the sun). One thing is certain though: Microsoft’s new CEO will have a tough task ahead of him.

SEC Getting Tougher On Companies By Pushing For Admission of Guilt

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 Leave a comment

One widely held critique of the SEC is that the federal agency did not pursue enforcement actions as diligently and vigorously as it should have against certain companies (i.e., large financial institutions) in the wake of the Financial Crisis. Instead, some argue that the SEC adopted a “slap-on-the-wrist” approach in its enforcement actions.

According to the Wonkblog, it seems a new shift in policy with SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White at the agency’s helm might make it tougher for companies to settle cases by simply paying a fine without any admission of wrongdoing.  By way of recent example, the SEC is demanding  an admission of guilt from JPMorgan in the case of the London Whale and extracting one from hedge fund adviser Philip Falcone.

So what is the significance, if any, of this recent policy shift? The Wonkblog cites the following reasons for why getting an admission of guilt is a big deal:

  • Symbolism
  • Subsequent litigation
  • Loss of reputation and investor confidence
  • Possible loss of banking license
  • Potential disqualifications from certain operations
  • Deterrent effects and shift in bargaining power
  • Greater potential for internal reform at companies
  • More tax revenue

It will be interesting to see how the SEC’s push for actual admissions of guilt will affect litigation going forward.

To read more on this topic, see The SEC is now demanding that companies admit wrongdoing. That’s a big deal (Wonkblog)

S&P 500′s Top Performers Over The Past Nine Years

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 Leave a comment

Ever wonder which company has performed the best in the S&P 500 over the past nine years? Names like Google and Apple come to mind as likely potential answers. However, the correct answer is Inc. as the company’s shares are up 4,551% over the last nine years. In fact, investing $10,000 in Priceline nine years ago would now be worth $465,150.92.

Here is a spreadsheet from Howard Silverblatt, an S&P analyst, that tracks the S&P 500’s top performers over the past nine years. Notably, Apple and Google came in third and tenth, respectively, on the list.


Source: WSJ