Author Archives: Joseph M. Hanna

NHL’s Proffered Expert in Concussion Litigation Attacks Dr. Bennet Omalu’s CTE Findings; Omalu Says No Room for Debate

The controversial discourse around high-contact sports and their potential link to permanent brain damage in professional athletes is coming to a head again. This time, it comes after the director of the Center for Neuropathology at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Rudolph J. Castellani, told a federal court that neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu’s medical conclusions regarding the potential link were inaccurate. Dr. Omalu, notoriously known for his research and findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition often found…

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NFL Players Union Argues No Breach of Collective Bargaining Agreement on Player’s 10-Game Drug Suspension

Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles right tackle, was hit with a 10-game drug suspension last season for the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. In response, Johnson filed suit last month against the NFL Players Association, arguing that the Union’s inactions caused his suspension. Specifically, Johnson sued the NFL and the Players Union for allegedly failing to follow the collective bargaining agreement and the collectively bargained NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances in punishing him with a 10-game suspension. After raising jurisdictional issues and determining that…

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Is a Football Player’s Concussion an Intentional Injury? Arena Football Says No, Moves for Dismissal of Player’s Concussion Lawsuit

Lorenzo Breland, a former player for Arena Football One LLC’s Tulsa Talons and New Orleans Voodoo, sued Arena Football for concussion-related injuries that he sustained during his time in the league. Throughout his four years playing for Arena Football, Breland suffered two alleged concussions, the first one in 2011 and the second one in 2014 — ending his career. Breland sued the league for fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. In response, Arena Football filed a motion for quick judgment, maintaining that Breland’s…

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Louisville Response to NCAA Allegations Attempts to Shield Pitino

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the University of Louisville released its response to the NCAA after receiving a Notice of Allegations that criticized Rick Pitino for failing to monitor his former assistant and director of basketball operations, Andrew McGee. In 2015, a tell-all book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” publicly accused McGee of paying for strippers to attend parties in the dorms of players and recruits from 2010-14. The book was written by Katina Powell, who claimed she was paid…

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NHL Wants to Keep Wrongful Death Suit in the Federal Courts

On January 20, 2017, the NHL opposed sending the wrongful death suit of deceased hockey player Derek Boogaard back to state court. The lawsuit began in 2013, and was initially filed in Cook County, Illinois, but was removed by the NHL to the federal courts shortly after. Boogaard’s family alleges he developed a painkiller addiction and permanent brain damage from injuries sustained as an “enforcer” for the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. Boogaard died of a painkiller overdose in 2011, and was prescribed…

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Ex-NFL Players Who Previously Opted Out of NFL Concussion Settlement Call Audible and Attempt to Rejoin Settlement

Four former players have attempted to rejoin the league’s potential $1 billion concussion settlement after they previously opted-out to challenge the settlement in the federal courts. Ralph Williams, Lex Hilliard, Brian Schaefering, and Charles Mincy were part of a group of more than two-hundred ex-NFL players who opted out of the settlement in November, 2014. The Third Circuit affirmed the settlement on April 18, 2016, despite arguments from the players that the deal should leave open the possibility that a test could be developed to…

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Student-Athlete Attorneys Look to Score in NCAA Concussion Settlement Agreement

On January 13, 2017, attorneys filed a request for $15 million in fees in an Illinois federal court after an early approval of a $75 million settlement by the NCAA for concussion-related health concerns for NCAA student-athletes. The attorneys argued the fee request is reasonable compensation due to the novelty of the case, and their 18,000 hours of attorney-time invested. A hearing is scheduled for May for final approval of the settlement. The multidistrict litigation included an estimated four million former NCAA student-athletes, and $70…

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The NCAA Continues to Block Student-Athletes From Transferring Universities: Protecting Fair Play or Violating Antitrust Laws?

Former Northern Illinois University football player, Peter Deppe, filed suit against the NCAA in which he alleged that the NCAA’s “year-in-residence” rule violates antitrust laws. NIU recruited Deppe as a walk-on punter, but designated him as a red shirt player for his first year. In August 2014, the special teams coach told Deppe that beginning in January 2015, he would receive an athletic-scholarship and take over as the starting punter. However, the special teams coach transferred schools, and NIU’s head coach informed Deppe that…

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Ole Miss Persuades Tax Court Judge to Slash Tax Bill in Half, a Tax Victory for Athletic Programs

Ole Miss successfully convinced a tax court judge to reduce the university’s tax liability by 50 percent with respect to revenue the school brought in by sending its coaches to Nike and Coca-Cola sponsored functions. In August 2015, the IRS notified the university that the income received for these appearances were taxable under IRC sections 511-513, because it constituted “unrelated business income” for exempt organizations. Ole Miss responded by filing a petition with the tax court disputing its tax liability in late 2015, arguing the…

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Sexual Abuse Suit Brought by 18 Athletes Names MSU and USA Gymnastics as Defendants

Eighteen women have filed suit naming Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the Twistars gymnastics group as defendants with regard to the actions of Dr. Larry Nassar, an elite orthopedic doctor who allegedly sexually assaulted several women over the course of twenty years in the guise of medical treatment. Specifically, the suit alleges that by ignoring the women’s persistent claims, MSU, USA Gymnastics, and Twistars effectively perpetuated the abuse perpetrated by Nassar for two decades. Twistar’s owner, John Geddert, chose not to take action after…

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