Eli Manning settles Giants memorabilia fraud lawsuit

Eli Manning has passed on having to explain in court what he meant in April 2010 when he asked a Giants equipment director for “2 helmets that can pass as game used.”

Manning won’t have to take the stand after he, the Giants and Steiner Sports Memorabilia preempted a scheduled trial for memorabilia fraud on Monday by settling all claims with the plaintiffs, sources confirmed to the Daily News Monday evening. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Jury selection initially had been scheduled for Monday, was pushed back until Wednesday, and then before it could ever occur, the parties settled. Karen Kessler, a spokeswoman for McCarter English, attorneys for the Giants, released the following statement:

“Eric Inselberg, Michael Jakab and Sean Godown have resolved all claims in their pending litigation against the New York Giants, Eli Manning, John Mara, William Heller, Joseph Skiba, Edward Skiba and Steiner Sports, in accordance with a confidential settlement agreement reached today. The compromise agreement, entered into by all parties, should not be viewed as supporting any allegations, claims or defenses.

“All parties are grateful to have the matter, which began in 2014, concluded and are now focused on football, the fans and the future,” the statement concluded.

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The court of public opinion, however, of course naturally will see a settlement and wonder why it would even be necessary if the parties had nothing to hide. The case centered on potential liability of Manning, the Giants and Steiner for fraud based primarily on allegations two helmets Manning and Steiner portrayed as “game-used” were counterfeit.

And the fact is, even though Superior Court judge James DeLuca had thrown out some of the charges brought by the plaintiffs in mid-April, he was still sending the case to trial under the purview of a new judge Charles Powers, and there were certain sticking points that presented major problems, especially for Manning.

The biggest came to light last spring, when the plaintiffs’ attorneys discovered an email from Manning to Giants equipment director Joe Skiba on April 27, 2010, in which Manning had asked for “2 helmets that can pass as game used.”

Manning angrily denied any wrongdoing publicly, but in court filings his attorneys were able to do nothing more than try to parse the language and debate its meaning but could not provide evidence that definitively cleared him.

Steiner, had been accused of misrepresenting the helmets, as well, and the Giants could have been found liable for fraud based on negligent supervision of Manning after being warned of the allegations and behavior in 2011.

A settlement concludes the case but doesn’t put to bed the mystery of what really happened, and certainly the answer to that question doesn’t seem to be nothing.