United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
(1) DISMISSING DEFENDANT ALL AMERICAN SPORTS CORPORATION
WITHOUT PREJUDICE ON IN PERSONAM JURISDICTION GROUNDS; (2)
TRANSFERRING ACTION TO THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS AS TO DEFENDANT BRG SPORTS,
INC. PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1406 AND AS TO DEFENDANT
RIDDELL, INC. PURSUANT TO § 1631; (3) TERMINATING AS
MOOT PENDING MOTIONS AT ECF 30, 31, 32, 52 WITHOUT
LABSON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
wake of the media firestorm that has rocked the sport of
football surrounding the long term effects of concussions,
thirty-four former college football players from around the
country have filed a products liability action against the
companies involved in the manufacturing, marketing, and sales
of the helmets they wore. These college football players (the
“Players”) allege that Riddell, Inc., BRG Sports,
Inc., and All American Sports Corporation (collectively,
“Defendants”) are liable for their negligent
manufacturing of football helmets over a thirty-year period
including their failure to warn players of the risks of brain
injuries. See Complaint, ECF 1. The Players chose to
bring this action in the Northern District of California, but
here's the catch: none of the Players currently reside or
ever played football in California, and none of their
injuries occurred in California. In fact, none of the three
defendant companies sued by the Players is incorporated or
headquartered in California.
filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state
a claim, ECF 30, as well as a motion to dismiss for lack of
personal jurisdiction with respect to Defendants Riddell and
All American Sports, ECF 32. Defendants also moved to sever
the Players' claims into thirty-four distinct lawsuits.
See ECF 31. The Players opposed all of these
motions, and filed a motion to amend their complaint.
See ECF 52.
Court held a hearing on these pending motions on October 5,
2017. After an extensive discussion at the hearing, while the
matters were under submission, the Players informed the Court
of their plan to resolve a number of the issues raised in
Defendants' motions. See ECF 61. Importantly,
the Players stated their intent to dismiss All American
Sports from this action entirely, and to seek a transfer of
the remaining claims against Riddell and BRG Sports to the
United States District Court for the Northern District of
Court held a further status conference on November 9, 2017.
At that time, the Parties informed the Court that they would
stipulate to a dismissal of All American Sports without
prejudice on in personam jurisdiction grounds. The
Parties further stipulated to a transfer of the claims
against Riddell and BRG Sports to the Northern District of
status conference, although the Players indicated a
willingness to amend their Complaint to conform to this
Court's tentative ruling at the hearing, the Defendants
requested a formal ruling on their motion to dismiss pursuant
to Rule 12(b)(6). The Court finds that it would be improper
to issue a formal ruling on Defendants' motion to dismiss
in light of the Parties' stipulated transfer, which, at
the Defendants' specific request, is based on lack of
personal jurisdiction over Riddell, and based on improper
venue with respect to BRG Sports. Nevertheless, the following
order lays out the Court's reasoning on Defendants'
motion to dismiss, and GRANTS the Parties' stipulated
request to transfer this action to the United States District
Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
in this action consist of thirty-four former collegiate
athletes (the “Players”) who played football at
different colleges and universities at different times over
the course of decades. See Compl. ¶ 20, ECF 1.
The Players allege that they all suffer from “several
symptoms indicative of long-term brain and neurocognitive
injuries.” Id. At all relevant times, the
Players allege that they “wore Riddell helmets”
that Defendants were in the business of “selling,
manufacturing, designing, testing, engineering, marketing,
modifying, assembling, inspecting, distributing, and
controlling.” Id. ¶¶ 20, 70. Because
the Players suffered concussions and other symptoms of brain
injuries despite wearing Defendants' allegedly defective
helmets, they brought this products liability action against
BRG Sports, Inc. (“BRG Sports”), Riddell, Inc.
(“Riddell”), and All American Sports Corporation
(“All American”) for negligence, design defects,
and failure to warn of the danger and risks associated with
concussions. See generally Compl.
the Players seek to hold Defendants liable for breaching
their duties to properly educate their helmet users of the
long-term damages resulting from helmet use, as well as their
failure to mitigate injuries associated with the foreseeable
use of their products, and failure to provide adequate
warnings to their helmet users. Id. ¶¶ 16,
118, 123, 127. The Complaint contains allegations that the
Players have suffered permanent injuries or remain at an
elevated risk for injuries and latent brain damage as a
result of Defendants' conduct. Id. ¶ 2.
These serious neurocognitive injuries include “memory
loss, dementia, depression, and CTE and its related
symptoms.” Id. ¶¶ 20, 175.
their Complaint, the Players lay out a comprehensive
background on concussions and brain injuries, including a
“primer on concussions” as well as a detailed
history of football helmet design. See, e.g., Compl.
at 7-20. The Complaint also includes a thorough history of
Defendant Riddell's business, and its role in developing
the helmets at issue as well as its various marketing
campaigns over the years. Id. at 20-30. However, as
further discussed below, the only information about the
Players themselves is contained in a list of their names in
the case caption and an incomplete list of the colleges and
universities where they played football, which are not tied
to a specific player or time period. Importantly, the
Complaint does not include the years or locations where each
Player played football or wore Riddell helmets, or any
salient facts regarding their football careers and injuries
MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM
Parties stipulated to a dismissal of Defendant All American
Sports Corporation on November 14, 2017. See ECF 67.
The Court hereby GRANTS the Parties' stipulation to
dismiss All American on in personam jurisdiction
grounds. Therefore, the Court's comments regarding
Defendants' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss are addressed only
with respect to Defendants Riddell and BRG Sports.
outset, the Court notes that it would be improper to issue a
formal ruling on Defendants' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss
because it is inconsistent with the Parties' stipulated
request to transfer this action to the Northern District of
Illinois for lack of personal jurisdiction over Riddell, and
for improper venue with respect to BRG Sports. See
ECF 65 at 3. However, because Defendants have requested a
more formal summary of this Court's determination
regarding the deficiencies it identified in the Players'