Sports Litigation Case Law Update March 2015 Part 2 of 2

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As mentioned in part 1 of this months sports litigation case law update here we visit a hockey locker room in upstate New York, and go back to Texas for a youth baseball field. High School Hockey Player Assumed the Risk of Being Stepped On By a Skate in the Locker Room Litz v. Clinton Central Sch. Dist., 2015 WL 1270085 (4th Dept., March 20, 2015) Plaintiff high school hockey player was walking barefoot in the locker room when his teammate, who still had his skates on, stepped backwards and accidentally stepped on plaintiff’s foot.  New York’s Appellate Division, Fourth Department affirmed summary judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s action against the defendant school district, hockey coaches, and teammate, applying well-established New York case law regarding the assumption of the risk doctrine in the sports ...
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Rise and Fall of an Empire (Distribution, Inc.)

empire_keyart_tunein In the pilot episode of Fox’s smash-hit series Empire, Cookie Lyon, explaining why, after her release from jail, she’s returning to her husband Lucious Lyon’s fictional record label, Empire Entertainment, says simply: “I’m here to get what’s mine.”  This is, of course, in reference to the formerly-jailed matriarch having taken the rap for Lucious to the tune of 17 years behind bars for drug-running while he built his music “empire.” Coincidentally, it also may sum up the thinking over the last couple of months by real-life label, Empire Distribution, Inc. (“Empire Distribution”) which, in asserting that its alleged intellectual property rights have been improperly appropriated by the record-breaking show, appears to also be similarly attempting to “get what’s mine.”  But in doing so, it appears to have awoken another sleeping empire, Fox, and now ...
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Sports Litigation Case Law Update March 2015 Part 1 of 2

Capture In this month’s sports litigation case law update, we travel to a soccer stadium in Texas, a softball field in Illinois, a hockey locker room in upstate New York, and then back to Texas to a youth baseball field.  We start, however, with the best sports-related quote in a judicial opinion this past month, which comes from the Court of Appeals of North Carolina which stated “we conclude that the purported conflict described in [defendant’s counsel’s] motion to disqualify looks less like a conflict of interest and more like the judicial equivalent of a European soccer player taking a dive and then writhing around on the ground feigning injury in an effort to trick the referee into disciplining his opponent. As such, [defendant’s counsel’s] motion to disqualify is denied” (MacMillan ...
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NHL Fails to Secure Quick Exit From Concussion Litigation

Capture On Wednesday, March 25, Federal Judge Susan Nelson denied the NHL’s motion to dismiss the class action concussion injury lawsuit brought against it by former NHL players. Several different complaints against the NHL were consolidated last October in which six former players, seeking to represent all players living and deceased, argue that the NHL failed to inform them of the health risks caused by concussions and head-related trauma though the league had knowledge, research, and resources of such information.  The allegations mostly follow the lead taken by the NFL and NCAA concussion plaintiffs, but differ in one significant regard.  The players here argue that the NHL perpetuates a violent culture that increases the risk of head injuries.  As a sport that doesn’t simply tolerate, but supports and even glorifies violence, ...
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Pittsburgh Steelers Antonio Brown’s Agent Sued for Double-Dealing

Capture Exclusive Supplements Inc. (“ES”), a sports and nutrition supplement company, filed a lawsuit against an NFL agent for inducing Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown to breach the non-compete provision of the endorsement agreement Brown signed with the company in November 2014. The complaint was filed on March 24, just one day after Glukos, a sports nutrition brand, announced that Brown signed on to be on “Team Glukos.”  The court document alleges that Brown’s agent Rosenhaus Sports Representation (“RSR”) induced Brown to enter into the Glukos endorsement agreement even though it was fully aware of the non-compete provision of the ES contract. In addition to compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, ES is also asking the court to issue an emergency temporary restraining order that would prevent Glukos from using Brown’s ...
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Former Television Judge Joe Brown Loses Appeal Over Contempt Finding

Capture On Monday, March 23, former television personality Judge Joe Brown lost his appeal of the juvenile court ruling that found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to five days in jail last March. Joe Brown was visiting Shelby County Juvenile Court last March when he was approached by a woman who wanted his advice. The former judge decided to represent the woman in the courtroom and became heated when the magistrate judge denied his request for dismissal and rescheduled the hearing. Brown became verbally abusive and questioned the court’s authority, calling it a circus. Magistrate Horne warned Brown he was close to being held in contempt, but Brown did not quell his insubordination. The magistrate initially sentenced Brown to one day in jail, but the former television personality ...
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Court to Determine Who Owns “Happy Birthday to You”

Capture A California federal judge is to decide whether Warner/Chappell owns the 120-year-old “Happy Birthday to You” as Warner/Chappell and Good Morning to You Productions (“GMTY”) came to an agreement to do so on March 23.  The copyright suit was brought against Warner/Chappell in 2013 by GMTY, alleging Warner/Chappell “extracted millions of dollars in unlawful licensing fees” for the song despite the controversy over the origins and ownership of the song. Arguing that the song has been in the public domain for 65 years, GMTY President Jennifer Nelson said, “If you don’t pay for the license to the song they will notify you and let you know that you have to pay. They’ve never actually sued anybody but they have strong-armed people into having to pay.”  She said that using the ...
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Stolen German Painting Found in NYC

Capture James Weldon, a resident of East 73rd Street, inherited Adraen Coorte’s 1705 painting, “Still Life with Chestnuts.” This painting is now the basis of a Summons and Complaint filed in Manhattan Supreme Court by Dr. Konrad Meissner. Dr. Meissner, a resident of Polling, Germany, claims that his father was a well-known art dealer in Dresden, Germany and was in possession of the painting before it illegally seized by the German “Stasi.” In the 1970s and 1980s, East Germany had established “fictitious fax obligations” by the “Stasi” to justify seizures of private art. Dr. Meissner claims that “Still Life with Chestnuts” was part of his father’s collection that was seized through a series of raids in 1982. When Dr. Meissner’s father challenged the seizures, the Stasi had him committed to a ...
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Clemens’ Defamation Lawsuit Reaches Settlement

Capture On Wednesday March 18, the defamation-based legal dispute between Roger Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee,  arising from allegations that the long-time MLB pitcher used performance enhancing drugs, has finally settled. The dispute began over 7 years ago with the publication of the now infamous Mitchell Report.  In the report, pitching trainer, Brian McNamee, accused both Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens of taking performance enhancing drugs banned by the MLB.  Though Pettitte quickly admitted to his use, Clemens denied, and continues to deny, any illegal steroid use.  In retaliation, Clemens brought a defamation lawsuit against the trainer, which was thrown out of court.  Both men testified to their position before a congressional committee, resulting in Clemens being tried for perjury.  In 2012, Clemens was acquitted of those charges. Wednesday’s ...
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Ex-Ravens Ray Lewis Going After His Former Lawyer

Capture Ex-Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has sued his former attorney and longtime friend who defrauded him of $1.7 million in connection with a failed development project in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The lawsuit alleges Lewis’ former attorney Marc Seldin Rosen convinced Lewis to sign a line of credit that “would not be touched.”  However, the attorney obtained $1.7 million for the MVP Lanes entertainment complex, a Hunt Valley bowling alley project.  Lewis alleges that he believed he was only allowing his name and likeness to the project. Although it was never materialized, the project included a bowling alley, arcade and restaurants.  Lewis reportedly had a majority stake in the project while Rosen and his wife were minority partners.  The business venture had envisioned to become a national chain.  In an interview given in ...
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