Former Wolverine B.J. Askew Wins Civil Lawsuit

Submitted by goblueinMO on March 23rd, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Former Michigan Wolverine B.J. Askew (1999-2003), whose football career was cut short in 2009 after a traffic accident, won a civil lawsuit in Florida this week.  The year before the accident Askew had just received the largest contract extension for a fullback in NFL history.  Sadly, after the accident he was placed on the IR and cut at the end of the season, ending his football career.



March 23rd, 2012 at 12:38 PM ^

that's not true at all.  if you lose and appeal you have to have a basis of appeal not rooted in a factual determination and you have to post a bond and you have to spend another 300k-500k just to get to the oral arguments on the first appeal.  so generally, no, it's not right to say appeals are the norm.

Section 1

March 23rd, 2012 at 10:15 AM ^

And there's this (caution; I am not a Florida attorney)...  There is usually prejudgment interest, and often an award of trial costs to be added to a judgment based on a jury verdict like this.  So add a chunk of change to that number.  Then again, 30-40% of the award will go to Askew's trial attorneys.

Given that it was a commercial vehicle that hit him, and not somebody's great grandmother living on social security, my guess is that there is adequate money for collectibilty in this case.  I wonder what the defense was, when a commercial vehicle rear-ends a passenger car?  Maybe it was a trial just on damages with admitted liability.  (With the defendant claiming, "Of course the truck hit your car; but that had nothing to do with the end of your NFl career.  Look at the other 80% of lower-round draft picks who wash out of the League after 3 years...")

Usually what happens at this stage is that the parties settle, with a very nice check being written.  Appeals are a little easier to predict than trials, and in this case I bet that there wer very good attorneys on both sides and that there was probably not much trial court error to complain about on appeal.  All speculation, but that's generally how things work in civil cases.


March 23rd, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

Played out... but not inappropriate.

Personal attacks aren't acceptable, and are dealt with in a draconian manner (I BITE MY THUMB AT THEE, FIRST AMENDMENT). Attacks on your persona are very different. You can only spend so long quacking like a duck before you lose the right to be upset when someone says, "hey, look... a DUCK!"


March 23rd, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

If you reply in kind, you're fine. This isn't like a hockey game*; I see the original hit as well as the retaliation, so there's no benefit to striking first.

*It's REALLY not like CCHA, or I would give you a five-minute major for double-dribbling and two minutes for petty larceny. I would then disallow a goal because I was can't be sure that this isn't really the Matrix, which would mean that the puck doesn't really exist and therefore could not actually cross the line.

03 Blue 07

March 23rd, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

I, for one, thought a $34m judgment in this case was just off-the-charts absurd; even if he were paralyzed from the neck down, he wouldn't get that kind of verdict most likely, and it would be reduced by an appellate court, most likely.

Section 1 is right: what happens is, the defendant says they're going to appeal, starts the process, and, depending on the jurisdiction, has to put up a cash bond for half of the judgment usually. S1 is right about postjudgment, too- the clock's ticking from the date of the judgment, depending on what Florida's statute is. Some states tie it to LIBOR or the T-bill rate, while others have a statutorily-defined per annum interest.

Also, unless there was some sort of egregious error by the trial court, the defendant isn't really going to appeal because it thinks it is going to get the verdict or judgment overturned; they just say so in order to get the plaintiff to take a lesser amount now, and settle the case. For example, they could say "look, we're going to appeal this, which will take another year and a half, probably; you can have $2.9m instead of 3.4m right now if you want, and it's guaranteed." A lot of times the "appeal" is just a bargaining chip.

Section 1

March 23rd, 2012 at 2:21 PM ^

It can be hard to get prejudgment interest in some tort cases in Florida (they usually reserve prejudgment for money damages on sum-certain debts), but when there are special economic losses that are calculable (loss of an existing NFL contract, etc.), those kinds of damages are elibgible for prejudgment interest.  And yeah, the postjudgment interest starts to run for the date of entry.

BJ will likely get a big chunk of change, and it could be structured as mostly tax-free.  A comfortable Florida retirement, along with an NFLPA retirement, for a guy who is 32.


March 23rd, 2012 at 10:15 AM ^

I'd bet that the company has insurance for this and the insurance company is the one that is paying for the lawyers and appeals. I doubt that he sees any of the money for at least another few years.

03 Blue 07

March 23rd, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

^^^^^^ This. Even if he ran into Warren Buffett, Buffett's insurance would foot the bill for his defense. As for the interest, starting in mid-2011, I believe, Florida went to a system where they adjust that rate every quarter. It's currently at 4.75% per annum (not compounding) in Florida.If you're wondering, that's roughly $161,500 per year in interest on the $3.4m judgment.


March 23rd, 2012 at 11:44 AM ^

But it seemed like a promising move for him.  Mike Alstott was either retiring or about to retire from Tampa Bay, and Alstott's stardom was proof that Tampa Bay made prominent use of their fullbacks for more than blocking.  The giant [not those giants] contract the Bucks gave Askew implies they expected him to be able to fill that role.  Sorry his career ended because of this accident, but actually happy to find out that was the reason.  I was so sure he'd flourish there, and he just seemed to disappear.


March 23rd, 2012 at 1:20 PM ^

Seems kinda unjust that the team should have to pay for services they never received. It sucks what happened to Askew, but it seems unfair that that risk falls on the team.

I realize this was a matter of contract language, and I'm sure the court got it right, but it seems like all too often teams end up paying millions to guys while receiving nothing in return due to injury, and that this practice is pretty much just accepted now.

03 Blue 07

March 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 PM ^

Any NFL team can cut any player at any time and not pay him another dime. The only time the teams get screwed is in a situation like this, and, well, the guy-- Askew- can no longer pursue his chosen profession. I think if you asked the 32 NFL owners if they want it the other way-- i.e., they have to actually pay the full contract for their players, as opposed to cutting them whenever the player has a "roster bonus" coming up, or is set to make more money-- in exchange for not having to pay said contracts if the player is no longer able to actually play football due to injury....the NFL owners would politely decline such a trade-off. The owners have it pretty good on this issue, all things considered.

EDIT: this is in response to the idea that it sucks for the Bucs that they have to pay him under his contract; the judgment in the civil case doesn't involve the Bucs at all, it's against the defendant trucking company, whose driver the jury found to be at fault.