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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Eli Manning through his career
University of Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning (R) greets Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Josh Fields after the Rebels defeated the Cowboys 31-28 at the 68th Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, Texas, January 2, 2004. Manning passed for 259 yards. REUTERS/Jeff Mitchell JM
Quarterback Eli Manning (L), from the University of Mississippi, stands with his brother, NFL quarterback Payton Manning, after Eli was chosen as the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, at Madison Square Garden in New York, April 24, 2004. Manning was originally selected by the San Diego Chargers, who then traded him to the New York Giants shortly afterwards for future draft picks. REUTERS/Chip East MS/HB
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10), the first choice in the 2004 National Football League draft, listens to Offensive Coordinator John Hufnagel (L) as he works out on the first day of the Giants Mandatory Mini-Camp at the Giants practice facility next to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, May 7, 2004. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine RFS
New York Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning throws a pass during the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, November 21, 2004. Manning, this season's number 1 overall NFL draft pick, was making his first start for the Giants replacing Kurt Warner who started the Giants' first nine games of the season. REUTERS/Mike Segar MS
New York Giants quarterback Manning celebrates throwing a touchdown pass next to Arizona Cardinals Okeafor in East Rutherford. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (R) celebrates throwing a touchdown pass next to Arizona Cardinals Chike Okeafor (L) during first quarter action in their NFL game in East Rutherford September 11, 2005. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning throws against the Washington Redskins in the first half of their NFL game in Landover, Maryland, December 24, 2005. Washington defeated New York 35-20. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (L) talks with his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, following their NFL football game in East Rutherford September 10, 2006. The game was the first time the brothers played against each other as quarterbacks in the NFL. Indianapolis defeated New York. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning tries to evade a tackle by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Demarcus Ware (R) in the fourth quarter of their NFL footall game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, December 3, 2006. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants' quarterback Eli Manning (10) rolls out of the pocket during second quarter of his team's NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York December 23, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin (L) stands with quarterback Eli Manning before their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Irving, Texas, January 13, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is interviewed by the NFL Network during press conference in Phoenix, Arizona, January 28, 2008. The Giants will play the undefeated New England Patriots in the National Football League's Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Topping (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) celebrates after his touchdown pass to teammate David Tyree (not pictured) in the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots in the NFL's Super Bowl XLII football game in Glendale, Arizona, February 3, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy during his team's ticker tape Super Bowl victory parade through the Canyon of Heroes along Broadway in New York February 5, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants Eli Manning looks on as time expires during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game loss to the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Ohio October 13, 2008. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his wife Abby McGrew watch the match between Andy Roddick and John Isner at the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York, September 5, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray (UNITED STATES SPORT TENNIS ENTERTAINMENT)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrates throwing a touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 12, 2010. The touchdown was the first scored during a regular season game in the Giants new stadium. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning waves as he leaves the field after the Giants defeated the Dallas Cowboys in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, January 1, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning addresses the media during a news conference for the Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis January 30, 2012. The Giants will play against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on February 5. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning passes against the New York Jets during the first quarter of their pre-season NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey August 18, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (L) stands with teammate Lawrence Tynes in the final minutes of their NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in East Rutherford, New Jersey, December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
May 4, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning watch the game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) hands off the ball to New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts after a touchdown was called back on a holding penalty during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) before a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; From left Benjamin Watson , Eli Manning , Anquan Boldin stand with their awards during the Walter Payton man of the year press conference at Moscone Center in advance of Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
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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.

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