Trial Attorney Terry Coleman Honored with SFTLA’s 2023 Civil Justice Award for Exposing NFL’s Mistreatment of Disabled Players

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (May 18, 2023)— Pillsbury & Coleman, LLP is thrilled to announce partner Terrence “Terry” Coleman received the prestigious 2023 Civil Justice Award from the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association (SFTLA) for his groundbreaking work on behalf of disabled NFL athletes.

At the recent annual gala, Mr. Coleman accepted the award that marked the culmination of his impressive 30-year career representing policyholders in insurance bad faith and insurance coverage matters.

His notable work includes the high-profile case of Charles Dimry v. Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan et al., where a California federal judge ruled that the NFL retirement board unjustly denied permanent disability benefits to former San Diego Chargers player Charles Dimry. Mr. Coleman successfully argued for Dimry’s rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, leading to favorable rulings in 2018, 2020, and 2022.

The U.S. District Court ruling highlighted the retirement board’s pattern of denying Dimry’s benefits despite conflicting medical evidence. The case shed light on the mistreatment of disabled players by the NFL and emphasized the need for fair treatment and consideration of objective evidence in such cases.

“I have practiced in this area of disability insurance for nearly 30 years, against every major insurance company, and this was the worst conduct I have ever seen,” Coleman told the Washington Post. “The problem is their strategy works. They fight and appeal and drag cases out for as long as possible, and many players just give up.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline S. Corley found that Dimry’s pain rendered him unable to work and criticized the NFL for displaying bias in favor of its doctors’ recommendations. She also noted inconsistencies in the doctors’ evaluation and criticized their failure to consider the Social Security Administration’s findings of permanent disability.

“We look around for the people we can help and give our all. I’m arguing this case for the fourth time and I stand up tall and said: what they’ve done is not right. And finally, after six years, we got his benefits,” Coleman told the crowd in his award acceptance speech.

Mr. Coleman holds numerous board positions, served as president of SFTLA, and is a past president of the St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco. He is a Fellow of the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel. In 2003, Mr. Coleman served as chair of the Insurance Section of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now AAJ). That same year, Mr. Coleman was a finalist for “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the SFTLA. With a wealth of experience, he has authored and lectured extensively on insurance matters. Mr. Coleman has an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was recognized as a Northern California “Super Lawyer” for several consecutive years.

Pillsbury & Coleman, LLP, is a San Francisco-based law firm focused exclusively on representing policyholders in insurance disputes and insurance bad faith litigation. The firm represents individuals and businesses in insurance-related matters, ranging from maritime all sums claims in mesothelioma cases and technology errors and omissions insurance to ERISA and private long-term disability claims.