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Settlement reached in Eli Manning memorabilia fraud case

Giants quarterback Eli Manning denied any wrongdoing in

Giants quarterback Eli Manning denied any wrongdoing in a civil lawsuit involving sports memorabilia. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Giants, Eli Manning and Steiner Sports reached an undisclosed settlement Monday night to bring an end to the four-year-old civil lawsuit in which three memorabilia collectors accuse them of fraudulently passing off unused helmets as “game-used.”

Terms of the settlement were not released.

The deal comes just days before the start of a trial in a New Jersey court that was scheduled to feature Manning as the star witness. Giants co-owner John Mara and Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports, also were expected to testify.

The lawsuit was filed in January 2014. Jury selection was scheduled to start next week.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Giants said Monday night that the memorabilia collectors — Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown — “have resolved all claims in their pending litigation.” An attorney for the collectors said he supports that statement.

The Giants and Manning have long denied any wrongdoing. But New Jersey attorneys who are not involved with the case said the Giants quarterback was facing an uphill battle at a trial because the state has one of the nation’s most consumer-friendly consumer fraud acts.

According to court papers, Manning sent an email to a Giants equipment manager in 2010 asking for two helmets that “can pass as game-used.” Manning’s contract with Steiner calls for the quarterback to provide two game-used helmets after each season that the sports memorabilia company then sells to the public.

Manning testified in August 2017 that he wasn’t asking for fake helmets in that email, according to a transcript of the quarterback’s deposition obtained by Newsday. “I believe I’m asking for two helmets that can satisfy as being game-used — satisfy the requirement of being game-used.”

That’s moot now.

The Giants’ statement says “the compromise agreement, entered into by all parties, should not be viewed as supporting any allegations, claims or defenses.” The statement concluded by saying “all parties . . . are now focused on football, the fans and the future.”

New York Sports