A plaintiff, Frank Gore, has agreed to take a drastically reduced monetary settlement in a high-profile lawsuit involving BB&T Corp. and 16 current and former NFL players,
The players sued BB&T in November 2013, citing disputed financial transactions made within a south Florida bank before BB&T bought the bank in July 2012.
The players said BankAtlantic allowed a concierge financial-management firm, Pro Sports Financial Inc., to open new accounts in their names via forged signatures and to withdraw nearly $53 million without their permission or knowledge.
Frank Gore, currently a San Francisco 49ers running back, claimed a loss of $1.6 million.
In the agreement filed Monday, Gore will accept $1,000 to settle his claim. BB&T will not have to pay any punitive damages to Gore. The money could be paid to Gore as early as next week.
“We are very pleased with the resolution of the Gore matter but are not able to comment on the remaining parties in this case,” BB&T said in a statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend this matter.”
Attorneys for Gore could not be reached for immediate comment about the settlement.
Analysts say they are curious to see how much legal and financial responsibility a jury may place on BB&T for account originations and transactions that its officials did not approve.
On the flip side, analysts wonder how much responsibility a jury may place on the players for not paying closer attention to their money.
In May, a Florida District Court judge fully dismissed seven of the plaintiffs’ 11 claims and dismissed portions of three other claims. In November, one of the partial claims was dismissed fully.
Both parties have said they expect the lawsuit to go to trial in mid-2015. A mediator was appointed in April.
“I have no idea why anyone would settle for such a trivial amount, unless he and his attorney expect the class settlement award to be zero, as I do,” said Tony Plath, a finance professor at UNC Charlotte.
The remaining plaintiffs include Jamaal Anderson, Santonio Holmes, Jevon Kearse, Ray Lewis, Brandon Meriweather, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis and Fred Taylor. All have connections with south Florida either professionally, collegiately or by residence. BankAtlantic was based in Fort Lauderdale.
Kearse is listed as having lost the most money at $7.96 million. The minimum amount lost is $515,000.
Andrew Kagan, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in November 2013 that “all of the transactions occurred before the purchase” of BankAtlantic by BB&T.
Kagan said BankAtlantic “aided and abetted fraud” committed by now-banned financial adviser Jeff Rubin and Pro Sports officials.
The lawsuit said the heart of the complaint involves a special division that BankAtlantic “dedicated to targeting and servicing athletes and others in the sports industry.” The lawsuit accuses BankAtlantic of sending statements for the new accounts to Pro Sports rather than the players.
Most of the withdrawn money was geared toward an Alabama casino venture known as the County Crossing project. According to Law360.com, Alabama officials determined in July 2012 that the casino-style gaming component was illegal under state law. The company subsequently went into bankruptcy.
The seven dismissed counts focused on specific aiding and abetting claims, breach of fiduciary duties and negligent supervision. The main factors in the dismissal decisions appear to involve statute of limitations for transactions that occurred before Oct. 31, 2009, and that some claims were not allowed under the law.
BB&T said in its latest dismissal motion that the players’ attorneys failed again to make their case for the remaining issues by not providing specific claim information, as required by the judge.
The following are the individual amounts that 16 current and former NFL players say they have lost through transactions handled by Pro Sports Financial Inc. and BankAtlantic. The combined total is about $53 million.
Jamaal Anderson ($5.81 million), Jacob Bell ($3.34 million), Derrick Gaffney ($2.29 million), Tavares Gooden ($515,000), Frank Gore ($1.6 million), Santonio Holmes ($1.16 million), Greg Jones ($2.01 million), Jevon Kearse ($7.96 million), Kenard Lang ($1.65 million), Ray Lewis ($3.79 million), Brandon Meriweather ($3.64 million), Santana Moss ($4.85 million), Clinton Portis ($3.14 million), Lito Sheppard ($5.01 million), Fred Taylor($2.99 million) and Gerald Warren ($3 million).
Source: Plaintiffs' lawsuit