PALM BEACH -– A former professional football player who is now a Palm Beach resident has filed a lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) to claim the medical benefits he allegedly earned. The lawsuit was filed in the West Palm Beach Division of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Darryll Allan Ashmore, an ex-NFL player, claims in his lawsuit that the NFL refuses to provide him with the benefits he supposedly earned under the player disability and neurocognitive benefit plan despite the medical evidence he presented to support his eligibility. Ashmore applied for total disability under the NFL’s program following the results of an initial medical examination he underwent.
If the benefits had been granted, he would have been eligible to receive $11,000 to $15,000 worth of medical benefits every month. As part of its rules, the NFL required Ashmore to undergo medical examinations to determine his eligibility, which he did in October 2015. Those tests were conducted in different places including one in Texas. Due to his condition, Ashmore supposedly sought consideration from the NFL to move the exams to facilities closer to his home because he could not travel. In November 2015, the player disability and neurocognitive benefit plan refused to grant Ashmore the benefits he sought.
In its decision rejecting Ashmore's claims, the NFL stated that the former football star failed to provide notice of his inability to attend the medical exams it scheduled for him.
In his complaint, Ashmore claimed that the NFL did not include in its administrative record the communication between his legal counsel and the organization. In a series of letter exchanges, the former football star’s lawyer, Edward Philip Dabdoub, had stated the inability of his client to travel. The attorney also provided the letters they sent to seek a different schedule and request that accommodations be made. In most of the letters, the NFL only addressed the scheduling issue and disregarded the concerns of Ashmore’s attorney regarding his inability to travel.
“The NFL led us to believe they were engaging us and working to accommodate Darryl’s reasonable request. They ambushed us with a letter denying Darryl’s benefits and the sole reason was that he didn’t appear for these examinations. It was a very disingenuous move by the NFL,” Dabdoub told the Daily Business Review.
Ashmore, who played for the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins, spent 11 years of his life as an offensive lineman in the NFL. Prior to that, he was a football star at Northwestern University. In the lawsuit, Dabdoub disclosed that his client’s years in the gridiron have resulted in various medical complications, which include chronic pain in his neck, knees, back, wrist and shoulders, herniated discs, degenerative arthritis, lumbosacral radiculopathy, hypertension, nausea and frequent and severe migraines.
In addition to these, Ashmore also battles different multiple cognitive and mental health conditions such as encephalopathy, dementia, memory loss, depression, anxiety and impaired concentration.
“Defendant NFL’s denial of Mr. Ashmore’s disability benefits breached the fiduciary duties owed to Mr. Ashmore under ERISA. Defendant NFL further failed to discharge its duties in respect to discretionary claims processing solely in the interests of Mr. Ashmore as a participant of the Plan,” wrote Dabdoub in the complaint against the NFL.