Hernandez’s Daughter Adds Helmet Maker in Refiled CTE Suit

On October 16, 2017, Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle Hernandez, filed suit in Massachusetts state court against the NFL and helmet maker Riddell Inc. for Hernandez’s post-death diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This suit was filed a few days after Avielle’s lawyers withdrew her suit in federal court against the NFL and the New England Patriots. However, the New England Patriots were left out of the Massachusetts state court suit. Avielle’s attorney stated that a separate action involving the Patriots will be filed at a later date. The Massachusetts state court suit alleged that the NFL and Riddell concealed and downplayed the risks of playing football in the manufacturer’s helmets. Riddell was the NFL’s official helmet provider for more than two decades. Avielle further claimed, “Aaron relied to his detriment ...
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Cowboys’ Elliott Catches Yet Another Reprieve in Fight Against NFL Suspension

South District of New York Judge Paul Crotty granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Tuesday, October 16, 2017, blocking the NFL’s suspension of Dallas Cowboys’ star Ezekiel Elliott, pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Failla, who is on vacation. Judge Crotty’s ruling that “irreparable harm” would be caused if Elliott served the suspension comes only five days after the Fifth Circuit had overturned the first injunction, issued by a Texas court, which had frozen Elliott’s suspension. The Fifth Circuit had ruled that the Texas court did not have jurisdiction because initial injunction filed by Elliott was premature. This meant the remedies of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Elliott and the NFL had not been exhausted. NFL Network legal analyst Gabe Feldman commented, “[w]e have seen ...
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The NFL and Ezekiel Elliott Will Now Duel in New York Federal Court Over His Six-Game Domestic Violence Suspension

The battle between Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott and the NFL continues. Last week the Fifth Circuit cleared the way for the NFL to enforce Elliott’s six-game domestic violence suspension. In the most recent update, the NFL Players Union urged the New York federal judge overseeing the NFL’s adjoining suit to grant it an emergency order blocking his suspension that is set to begin this coming Monday, October 23, 2017. Among its answer and counterclaim in the New York suit, the Players Union seeks an order vacating an arbitrator’s decision to uphold the suspension, and hinted at an upcoming motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. The Players Union argued that this is a “deliberate conspiracy” to deprive Elliott of the necessary fairness in his case. Elliott was ...
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NCAA Says UNC “Sham” Classes Did Not Violate Rules

On October 13, 2017, an NCAA panel ruled that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) did not violate NCAA policy for offering “sham” classes. The issues in the case were discovered in August 2011 and the following three years in which UNC conducted a number of internal and external reviews. The reviews led to a criminal indictment against Julius Nyang’oro, the former chair of the department of the “sham” classes, for obtaining property by false pretenses. Those charges were later dropped. A report conducted by the law firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP, who was hired in February 2014 for a deeper investigation, showed the offering of “paper courses.” The report showed hundreds of “paper courses” offered by Nyang’oro and Deborah Crowder, former curriculum secretary, between 1993 ...
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Golf Caddies Ask for Mulligan in Suit Over PGA Tour Bib-Ads

On October 12, 2017, golf caddies urged the Ninth Circuit to revive their proposed antitrust class action against PGA Tour Inc. for allegedly exploiting them as walking advertisements. The golf caddies claimed the lower court erred by using evidence outside of their complaint to interpret the contracts and that they had no chance to respond to the court’s arguments. In their original lawsuit filed by over 80 caddies in February 2015, the caddies alleged that PGA Tour earns $50 million a year from a policy that requires the caddies to wear sponsors on bibs that are so large that they cannot promote endorsement deals of their own on their shirts. The caddies claimed that the PGA Tour agreements do not explicitly require the bibs, thus the mandate they wear the ...
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Is Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension Finally Going to be Enforced After Appellate Court Sides with NFL?

The latest motion in the legal battle over Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension has been decided. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the way for the NFL to enforce a six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence accusations, siding with the league in the most recent high-profile fight over its ability to penalize players for off-field behavior. Specifically, the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 opinion, granted a stay for the injunction that was postponing Elliott’s six-game suspension. The majority ruled that the NFL Players Association moved too quickly in filing the case challenging Elliott’s six-game suspension before an arbitrator even issued his decision. The majority opinion stated, “Elliott cannot show it was futile to wait for a final decision simply because he believed the arbitrator would ...
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Agent and Trainer Seek Light Sentences for Smuggling in Cuban Ballplayers

On October 10, 2017, baseball agent Bartolo Hernandez and sports trainer Julio Estrada requested a Florida federal judge give light sentences — instead of the government’s request for harsher sentences — for their convictions for smuggling Cuban baseball players into the United States. In March, a Miami jury convicted Hernandez and Estrada for their roles in a scheme that coerced vulnerable baseball players, obtained false documents, and assisted in fraudulent and outright illegal entry into the U.S. Hernandez faces 3 to 15 years in prison for conspiracy and alien smuggling of Seattle Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin. Estrada faces 5 to 35 years of imprisonment for conspiracy and three counts of smuggling for the illegal entries of Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Dalier Hinojosa, and former ...
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Decision on Cowboys’ Elliott Suspension Officially Thrown into Fifth Circuit’s Hands

The NFL’s New York suit seeking to enforce the six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott was halted on October 11, 2017 until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals makes a decision. Manhattan federal court’s District Judge Katherine Polk Failla said she would not issue a formal stay of the injunction — the injunction currently preventing Elliott’s suspension from taking immediate effect — but that she would halt the New York litigation. Elliott has played, so far, in all five Cowboys’ games this season. The NFL suspended Elliott back in August following his ex-girlfriend’s allegations of domestic violence. The case has since then spiraled into two separate lawsuits. Elliott and the NFL Players Association (NLFPA) had originally filed suit in Texas federal court asking to vacate the then-forthcoming arbitration decision, ...
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Pennsylvania High School Students’ Concussion Class Action Allowed to Proceed

On October 10, 2017, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the overruling of preliminary objections to the plaintiffs’ complaint in a 70-page opinion, and allowed a concussion lawsuit filed by high school student-athletes to proceed. Three students, individually and on behalf of a class, have filed a negligence suit against the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) relating to concussion-related injuries sustained during participation in PIAA-regulated sports. The Commonwealth Court permitted an interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s ruling, and affirmed the lower court for the reasons discussed below. The court analyzed four issues with regard to the negligence claim: 1) whether the claims are non-justiciable due to the effect of the Safety in Youth Sports Act (SYSA); 2) whether the plaintiffs are barred from recovery as a matter of law because ...
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Will the NFL Terminate Players Who Kneel During the Anthem?

Experts have suggested NFL players who kneel during the anthem are unlikely to be terminated. And so far, no players have been. A few weeks ago, President Trump suggested players who do kneel during the anthem should be terminated. Reactions to President Trump’s comments were varied and some time later, many players have continued to kneel or lock arms with other teammates in a showing of solidarity. The reason the NFL or its teams have taken no action could be purely legal. Players are employees and are protected by a wide variety of legal safeguards for workers. A team simply can’t fire a player. They have to consider how federal, state, and local law governs the termination of a player. They also need to consider players contracts and the collective ...
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