Headline NFL Players Sports Law

NFL Players’ Lawsuit Against BB&T For Negligence Heads To Trial

I have been provided the opportunity to sit in on a class taught by ESPN and Sports Illustrated writer Andrew Brandt that is called “Business and Legal Aspects of Professional Sports.” Brandt is teaching the class through Villanova University’s online offering, which makes it easy for anyone to access the content.

Santana Moss (89) stands on the field before the start of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Santana Moss is one of the plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit against BB&T. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of years ago, many former National Football League players including Ray Lewis, Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Lito Sheppard and Fred Taylor filed a lawsuit against Branch Banking and Trust Company, more commonly known as BB&T.  The players claimed that BB&T wrongfully allowed for unauthorized withdrawals from their respective bank accounts and that some accounts were even opened in their names without permission.  These actions led to heavy losses for the players; they then sought relief through the filing of a legal action.

The original lawsuit asked for roughly $53 million in damages.  One of the plaintiffs, NFL running back Frank Gore, settled earlier this year for a major discount — $1,000.  His original claim was for $1.6 million, which was later increased to $3.4 million.

Now the remaining plaintiffs are heading to trial on their main claim that BB&T was negligent in allowing the unauthorized financial transactions.  The remaining plaintiffs have been dwindled down from sixteen to six players: Ray Lewis, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Lito Sheppard, Fred Taylor and Derrick Gaffney.  The two week trial has begun with a lengthy jury selection process in place.  Moss, Sheppard and Taylor have chosen to have a bench trial as opposed to having a jury decide the fate of BB&T.

The plaintiffs will be required to prove that BB&T owed them a duty of care to act in a certain manner to otherwise protect the players from the claimed wrongful distributions of their monies.  Thereafter, they will need to show that BB&T breached that duty by failing to exercise reasonable care and that but for BB&T’s wrongful action, the players’ damages would not have occurred.  Finally, they must demonstrate that BB&T should have foreseen the harms that would result from their allegedly wrongful actions, and that the players have been actually damaged.  The final element should be the easiest to prove for the plaintiffs.


If you’re interested in learning more about Villanova’s online sports program, please visit

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.