Product Liability & Toxics Law

Ex-NFL Player’s Lawyers Must Split Fee for Concussion Award

Jan. 15, 2021, 9:49 PM

A law firm that successfully appealed the amount of an award granted to retired football player Billy Ray Smith Jr. in the NFL concussion claims process must split its fee evenly with the firm that initially represented him because the appeal built on its work, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled.

Locks Law Firm PLLC is entitled to all fees attributable to the initial $1.4 million award, but it and Langfitt Garner PLLC will equally share in the fees attributable to an additional $400,000 award, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said.

Although the agreement between Locks Law and Smith provided for a fee of 33.33%, the court reduced it to the presumptive cap of 22% established in the concussion litigation in 2018.

The court approved the 20% contingent fee Smith agreed to in his contract with Langfitt Garner for the enhanced award.

Smith hired Locks Law in June 2012 for litigation against the NFL for alleged cognitive deficiencies resulting from injuries sustained while playing in the league.

In October 2018, the claims administrator issued a notice of the initial monetary award.

Attorney David Langfitt, who had worked on Smith’s case at Locks Law, left to form his own firm, Langfitt Garner, in June 2019.

Smith chose to switch to Langfitt Garner and signed an agreement with them in June 2019.

The claims administrator issued a new notice of award in August 2020 boosting the amount of the monetary award to Smith.

Smith played his entire 10-year career for the San Diego Chargers. He retired in 1992 and is now a co-host of a sports talk radio show in San Diego.

Magistrate Judge David R. Strawbridge issued the opinion.

The case is Turner v. Nat’l Football League, 2021 BL 12910, E.D. Pa., No. 12-md-02323, 1/14/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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