Ex-Penn State linebacker seeks $1.5 million settlement

(Scranton) Times-Tribune (TNS)

Former Valley View and Penn State football star Nyeem Wartman-White is suing an insurance company for at least $1.5 million, alleging it is not honoring a disability policy he signed before suffering a torn ACL last September and damaging his NFL Draft value, according to documents filed in U.S. Middle District Court on Thursday.

Wartman-White, 24, and his attorneys claim International Specialty Insurance repeatedly ignored requests to make good on the policy Lloyd’s of London agreed to with the linebacker before the start of the 2016 season, protecting him financially from loss of value and permanent disability in the event an injury prevented him from earning an NFL contract during or after last month’s NFL Draft.

Former Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White is seeking at least $1.5 million in a disability settlement.

The story was first reported by John Beauge of PennLive.com.

According to court documents, Wartman-White agreed to a policy that provided him a $500,000 loss of value benefit and another $1 million for permanent disability.

Alleging a “breach of contract and duty of good faith and fair dealing,” Wartman-White and his attorneys from Atlee Hall LLP in Lancaster are asking for the full $1.5 million, plus punitive damages.

The policy indicates Wartman-White could cash in on the loss-of-value portion of his policy if he signed a contract with an NFL team worth less than $2.8 million. He had no claim on the permanent disability clause if he signed a professional contract at all.

Wartman-White went undrafted, and he didn’t sign a free-agent contract. Recovery from a torn ACL can take six months, and a return to the football field might not occur for up to a year after surgery.

Wartman-White’s attorneys filed notice of injury in a Nov. 18 memo to International Specialty Insurance, promising “prompt access” to Wartman-White’s medical records associated with the injury, which occurred against Temple on Sept. 17. A second notice was sent to the company in mid-February, according to documents provided to the court. Both, Wartman-White’s side alleges, went unanswered.

Wartman-White had a breakthrough sophomore season for the Nittany Lions in 2015, recording 75 tackles and establishing himself as one of the leaders of the young Penn State defense. But he blew out his knee in the second quarter of the 2015 season opener against Temple, ending that season. He returned for his senior year in 2016 despite, he said in the suit, strong consideration toward entering the 2016 NFL Draft. He started strong, piling up 13 tackles in the Nittany Lions’ first two games before another knee injury against the Owls ended that season with 14 tackles and 3.5 for loss.