Ex-Penn State LB Nyeem Wartman-White suing insurance company

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/219468/" data-ylk="slk:Nyeem Wartman-White">Nyeem Wartman-White</a> suffered three season-ending knee injuries during his Penn State career. (Getty Images)
Nyeem Wartman-White suffered three season-ending knee injuries during his Penn State career. (Getty Images)

Nyeem Wartman-White’s college career definitely didn’t end as he envisioned it would.

Wartman-White, a linebacker, was a starter on Penn State’s defense in 2013 and 2014, but suffered season-ending knee injuries early in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Between those two seasons, Wartman-White says, per PennLive.com, he purchased a loss of value and permanent total disability policy in the event he were to get injured once again. After suffering another knee injury, he filed notice of the injury but never heard from the insurance company and has not been paid.

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As a result, Wartman-White filed a lawsuit seeking “at least $1.5 million” against the company, International Specialty Insurance Co., on Thursday.

From PennLive.com:

According to the suit, Wartman said he purchased a loss of value and permanent total disability policy in 2016. The policy ensured he would not suffer financially, if he was hurt during the 2016 season and was unable to play in the NFL, the suit states. The policy benefits, according to the suit, are $500,000 for loss of value and $1 million for permanent disability.

In the suit, Wartman, 24, said the breach of contract was done maliciously, so he’s entitled to actual, compensatory and punitive damages that amount to at least the benefits of the policy.

Wartman said in the suit he purchased a policy to ensure he would recover or mitigate any loss of income that might occur if he was injured through Aug. 1, 2017.

He was injured on Sept. 17, 2016 against Temple and said he filed notice of his injury on Nov. 18, 2016 and Feb. 14, 2017, the suit states. He said there has been no response or any attempt to contact him, according to the records.

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Utilizing a loss-of-value policy is nothing new for college athletes. A recent example was Michigan tight end Jake Butt, who suffered a serious knee injury — the second of his career — during the Orange Bowl. Butt was considered a high-round pick, but slipped all the way to the fifth round of the 2017 draft because of his knee.

Like Wartman-White, Butt took out a policy (worth about $2 million, per ESPN) before the 2017 season and was able to collect on some of it when he dropped into the final day of the draft.

From ESPN:

Prior to Butt’s injury, he was projected to be picked near the top of the second round, which would have grossed about $4 million in guaranteed money. As the first pick in the fifth round, Butt will receive about $380,000 in guaranteed money.

With the $543,000 of tax-free insurance money equated to about $900,000 that is taxed, that means the Orange Bowl injury cost Butt around $2.8 million. Butt took out a $2 million total disability policy with a $2 million loss-of-value policy attached before the start of the season. The loss-of-value rider cost roughly $25,000, a source said.

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Other college football players to collect on similar policies include Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith and Oregon defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Per ESPN, Ekpre-Olumu collected $3 million in insurance after a fall to the seventh round while Smith, a second-round pick, received $850,000. Both suffered knee injuries.

Wartman-White injured his left knee in 2015 and his right knee in 2016, coincidentally both times against Temple. He also took a medical redshirt in 2012 because of another serious knee injury. In the interim, he started a combined 20 games for the Nittany Lions in 2013 and 2014, and was second on the team with 75 tackles in 2014.

Wartman-White announced in December that he would pursue an NFL career instead of trying to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility. He was not drafted in April and has not signed with a team. Last month, Wartman-White told the York Daily Record he expected to be fully healthy by July.

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For more Penn State news, visit BlueWhiteIllustrated.com.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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