NFL Players, BB&T Settle Claims Over $53 Million in Lost Deposits

Six current and former NFL players and BB&T reached a confidential settlement in their suit claiming the bank's predecessor accepted improper documents from their financial adviser on accounts that cost the players a combined $53 million in lost deposits.

The players claimed the money was diverted to an Alabama casino venture that failed. NFL players are not allowed to invest in gambling ventures.

"Both parties are pleased to resolve this matter," GrayRobinson attorney David S. Hendrix said in a statement Friday. "We have decided to keep the terms of our settlement confidential and cannot comment further."

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom closed the case Sept. 2 after receiving a notice from attorneys on both sides saying each side would bear its own costs.

The settlement came after a day of testimony in the midst of a second trial. The first was a bench trial that Bloom took under advisement. Testimony was under way in the second trial when the agreement was reached.

Philip Fitzpatrick Jr., who worked for the bank from 2005 to 2012, already had testified BankAtlantic, BB&T's predecessor, testified bank employees didn't always get proper documentation for transfers made from NFL players' accounts.

Pro Sports Financial Inc. managed the finances for the plaintiffs: free agent Santana Moss and retirees Fred Taylor and Lito Sheppard, Ray Lewis, Clinton Portis and Derrick Jabar Gaffney.

Fitzpatrick said Pro Sports management enjoyed "unique" banking privileges.

While a typical customer would have to visit a branch to make a large wire transfer, BankAtlantic accommodated the athletes' busy schedules by allowing Pro Sports to request transfers via email or make seven-figure deposits via FedEx, Fitzpatrick said.

On the stand during the bench trial, Moss testified he didn't examine his own financial affairs until after realizing more than $1.4 million in unauthorized transfers has been made from a bank account in his name. He said he signed away power of attorney to a Pro Sports employee and sent his bank statements to the company without looking over them.

"I heard so much growing up, 'Pay attention to this. Pay attention to that,' " Moss said. "I didn't do it. I let [Pro Sports] pay attention to it. I'm paying for it now."

Moss said he signed a document in January 2006 to open a BankAtlantic account. After a Pro Sports security issue, Moss' bill-paying account was closed and a new one was opened in his name. Moss testified he didn't recognize the signature on the new account paperwork.

The players sought to hold the bank liable for unauthorized transfers by Fort Lauderdale-based Pro Sports.

BB&T was represented by a team of lawyers from GrayRobinson's Tampa office led by Hendrix.

The players were represented by Matthew Brenner, Jim Toscano and Ronald Edwards Jr. of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed in Orlando and Elizabeth Kagan of the Kagan Law Firm in Fort Myers. Brenner didn't respond to a request for comment by deadline.

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