Former NFL Agent Pleads Guilty to Bribing Former UNC Players

Former NFL agent, Terry Watson, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of athlete-agent inducement for providing nearly $24,000 in cash to former UNC and current NFL players Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, and Greg Little in 2010. Watson entered his plea deal on Monday, April 17, which concluded the more than three-year-old felony charges. The terms of his plea deal include 30 months of probation, a $5000 fine, and a suspended six to eight month jail sentence. A felony obstruction of justice charge for not providing records sought by authorities was dismissed as a part of the plea deal. Watson was one of five people who faced charges in the case. Watson’s plea deal came hours after his friend, Patrick Mitchell Jones, agreed to testify against him as part of a deferred-prosecution ...
Continue Reading...


NHL Concussion Litigation Documents Ordered to be Made Public: Judge Unseals 28 Documents

A U.S. Federal Judge has unsealed certain documents in the long-running lawsuit over the National-Hockey League’s handling of concussions sustained by players, as the public benefit and need for the information outweighs any of the NHL’s interests in keeping the documents confidential. The judge’s order required that one of the documents, an internal email regarding fighting and rules, to be kept confidential, because the league’s privacy interest in the notes and the prejudice that it would face if the notes were released outweighed the public’s need for disclosure. However, the judge’s order made 28 other documents attached to the class certification motion, which were designated confidential at the time, available to the public. The players argued that the documents must be made public, as they are judicial records. Notably, the ...
Continue Reading...

Former NFL Players Object to Class Attorneys’ Fees from the Concussion Settlement Fund

The former NFL players and their families seeking to recover from an uncapped NFL concussion litigation have objected to an additional five percent set-aside sought by the class attorneys on the case. As previously reported, in April 2015, the NFL entered into a settlement agreement with almost 22,000 former players, which established a 65-year span to compensate the class members. The deal offers payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million for each player, or the player’s estate, who suffered from a serious degenerative condition in connection with a traumatic brain injury, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. The lead law firms on the case, Seeger Weiss and Anapol Weiss, filed a petition for attorneys’ fees in the amount of $112.5 million for common benefit work. Notably, the firms ...
Continue Reading...

Connecticut Federal Court Denies WWE’s Motion for Summary Judgement Over Lengthy Briefs

A Connecticut Federal Judge has denied World Wresting Entertainment, Inc.’s motion for summary judgment regarding two former wrestlers’ claims that the long-term injuries associated with repeated head traumas were hidden from them, as both sides submitted briefs that were too long. As background, former WWE wrestlers, Evan Singleton and Vito LoGrasso sued the WWE in January 2015 for the WWE’s alleged concealment of the long-term health risks associated with repeated head injuries, and further, mislead wrestlers into performing while injured — worsening their injuries. In March 2016, three other former wrestlers had their cases dismissed, as they had not wrestled after the WWE allegedly learned about the long-term degenerative neurological diseases associated with multiple concussions in 2005. Singleton’s and LoGrasso’s fraudulent omission claim was allowed to proceeds because they wrestled ...
Continue Reading...

NCAA Argues O’Bannon Win Insufficient for a Grant of $42 Million in Attorneys’ Fees

The NCAA has moved for the Ninth Circuit to deny a $42 million attorney’s fees request regarding the underlying litigation over rules barring student-athletes from receiving compensation for their names, images, and likeness, as the NCAA alleged the win was only partial, and thus, such a large award is inappropriate. As background, a California district court issued an injunction, which prevented the NCAA from capping student-athletes financial aid amounts below the full cost of attendance, and that student-athletes could receive up to $5,000 per year for use of their name, image, and likeness. The cash payments are deferred until after graduation. While in 2015, the Ninth Circuit upheld the injunction, it reversed the lower court’s ruling that granted deferred payments. Both parties moved for the United States Supreme Court to ...
Continue Reading...

Former ESPN Announcer’s Wrongful Termination Suit Removed Back to State Court

A California Federal Judge ruled that former ESPN announcer Doug Adler’s wrongful termination suit, in which he claimed two executives and the network misinterpreted his “guerilla” comment about Venus Williams’ game play, will head back to state court, as ESPN failed to prove the executives’ Connecticut residence for invoking diversity jurisdiction. The dispute arose when Adler used the word “gorilla” while Venus Williams was on the court during the 2017 Australian Open. Adler was forced to make an on-air apology the following day, before being fired one day after that. In return, he filed suit against ESPN Productions, Inc., Mark Gross, Senior Vice President of Production, and Jamie Reynolds, Vice President of Production, for wrongful termination of employment, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional ...
Continue Reading...

Supreme Court Grants Cheerleading Apparel Manufacturer’s Request: Uniform’s Decorative Elements are Copyrightable

The U.S. Supreme Court held that a cheerleading uniform’s decorative elements may be protected under copyright law — a ruling aimed at providing some resolution regarding the disagreement over when these types of designs are eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law. As background, in 2010, Varsity Brands, Inc., the country’s largest cheerleading supplier, accused one of its rivals, Star Athletica, of copying the key elements of its uniform’s design, including stripes, chevrons, and other graphic elements that Varsity had registered with the Copyright Office. In response, Star swung back, arguing that the designs were too useful to be afforded copyright protections. In 2014, a federal judge ruled in favor of Star, holding that the design and function of the uniform were integrally intertwined, and thus, could not be separated ...
Continue Reading...

Judge Finds Chink in IP Suit Over Iron Man’s Armor

On March 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken dismissed in part and granted in part Walt Disney’s Marvel Entertainment’s bid to dismiss a copyright suit by Horizon Comics Productions Inc. over Iron Man’s body armor design. The lawsuit commenced in April 2015 by Horizon’s owners Ben and Ray Lai, who claimed Iron Man’s armor was based upon their 2001 comic book series Radix. In addition, the Lai brothers claimed that Marvel’s promotional poster for Iron Man 3 copied a promotional piece of art for the Radix comic. Judge Oetken agreed with Marvel that Iron Man’s armor was full of “dissimilarities” and “differ in respects” from the armor in Horizon’s Radix comics, but denied Marvel’s motion to dismiss in respect to the posters. Both Horizon’s and Marvel’s promotional posters ...
Continue Reading...

Amid Outside Pressure, North Carolina Replaces HB2

The discussions to repeal HB2 heated up last week after it was learned that North Carolina would potentially be excluded from hosting any NCAA events through the spring of 2022 absent a repeal of the law. Coincidentally, only hours before the NCAA deadline, the North Carolina legislature introduced HB142 which would replace HB2. The primary difference between HB2 and HB142 is that the latter exempts schools from state regulation of access to bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms. The law also prevents local governments from enacting or amending any ordinances regulating private employment practice or regulating public accommodations. This provision expires on December 1, 2020. On March 30, 2017, the bill was passed by both the house and the senate and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper. Despite the political ...
Continue Reading...

Back to Full Strength: U.S. Women’s Hockey Team Scores Big in Payment Dispute

In a stunning win for equal pay between genders, the United States Women’s hockey team secured a major victory by coming to an agreement with USA Hockey on a new four-year labor agreement. This result came on the heels of the Women’s team plan to boycott the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, which began Friday March 31, 2017. The move to boycott drew a large amount of support from athletes to politicians, who reverberated the argument that the women’s team should earn a paycheck equal in amount to what is earned  by the Men’s team. In a letter sent by twenty United States Senators on March 27, politicians pleaded with executives at USA Hockey to provide “equitable treatment” to both the Men’s and Women’s programs. In highlighting many of ...
Continue Reading...