Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Solomon v. Bell

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 23, 2017

JESSE SOLOMON, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
BERT BELL/PETE ROZELLE NFL PLAYER RETIREMENT PLAN; NFL PLAYER SUPPLEMENTAL DISABILITY PLAN, Defendants - Appellants.

          Argued: May 9, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. Marvin J. Garbis, Senior District Judge. (1:14-cv-03570-MJG)

         ARGUED:

          Michael Lee Junk, GROOM LAW GROUP, CHARTERED, Washington, D.C., for Appellants.

          Adam Ben Abelson, ZUCKERMAN SPAEDER LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

          ON BRIEF: Cyril V. Smith, ZUCKERMAN SPAEDER LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

          Before MOTZ, SHEDD, and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges

         Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Duncan wrote the opinion, in which Judge Motz and Judge Shedd joined.

          DUNCAN, Circuit Judge

         This appeal raises the issue of whether the plan administrator for Defendants-Appellants, the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan and the NFL Player Supplemental Disability Plan (collectively, the "Plan"), abused its discretion in denying a certain type of disability benefits to Plaintiff-Appellee Jesse Solomon. After the plan administrator determined that Solomon's disability-onset date rendered him ineligible for the benefits he sought, Solomon brought suit under § 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). The district court concluded that Solomon was entitled to the benefits he claimed and ordered the Plan to provide them. Because the Board failed to follow a reasoned process or explain the basis of its determination--neither addressing nor even acknowledging new and uncontradicted evidence supporting Solomon's application, including that of the Plan's own expert--we are compelled to affirm.

         I.

         A.

         Solomon played professional football in the National Football League ("NFL") for nine seasons before his retirement in 1995. During his football career, he sustained more than 69, 000 full-speed contact hits. As a result, he experienced symptoms associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy ("CTE"), a degenerative brain condition caused by repeated head trauma. He also suffered numerous knee injuries requiring multiple operations. Solomon now suffers from chronic knee pain, chronic headaches, depression, and anxiety that doctors expect to worsen over time. These injuries forced Solomon to resign from his post-NFL career as a high school teacher and football coach in 2007. Because he was unable to work, Solomon sought benefits under the Plan. Before discussing his application for benefits, we first explain the mechanics of the Plan.

         B.

         The Plan provides disability benefits to retired players who become totally and permanently disabled ("TPD") as a result of their football career. When a player seeks benefits under the Plan, a two-person Disability Initial Claims Committee ("the Committee") determines whether the player is entitled to benefits. A player can appeal the Committee's decision to the six-member Retirement Board ("the Board"), which is composed of three representatives appointed by the NFL Management Council and three representatives appointed by the NFL Players Association. If either the Committee or the Board finds that the player is substantially prevented from or substantially unable to work, he will be considered TPD. Alternatively, if the Social ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.