Author Archives: Molly M. Ryan

Is the First College Sports PAC for the Purpose of Preventing Pay for Play?

The athletic directors at 129 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) colleges and universities announced recently that they are forming a political action committee, called LEAD1, to lobby Congress. Not only can PACs give limited donations to candidates and parties, they can also — as a result of Citizens United — spend as much as they want to support or defeat a candidate, party, or legislation. LEAD1 is the first college sports PAC. Conventional wisdom holds that the FBS athletic directors created LEAD1 to try to…

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Michael Jordan Wins Trademark Case in China

In what is being hailed as a landmark decision, China’s highest court recently ruled in favor of Michael Jordan, holding that he owns the legal rights to the Chinese characters of the equivalent of his name. Jordan sued Qiaodan Sports Company, alleging that it built a brand by putting the Mandarin transliteration of his name on its sportswear. Jordan never gave permission for this use of his name and he has no connection with Qiaodan Sports. The high court overturned the lower courts, which…

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Canadian Court Dismisses Application to Bar Cleveland Indians From Wearing Uniforms with Name and Logo During Playoffs in Toronto

Just before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, indigenous activist Douglas Cardinal filed a legal challenge in Ontario Superior Court to prevent the Cleveland Indians from wearing uniforms bearing their team name and “Chief Wahoo” logo. The logo is a red-faced cartoon with a feather headband and a huge grin. Cardinal argued that the team name and logo are racist and violate Ontario’s human rights code. He contended that the team should be referred to as “the Cleveland team” and should play in…

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Fans Sue Golden State Warriors for Mobile Eavesdropping

Golden State Warrior fans filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the team and the companies who developed the team’s mobile app. The plaintiffs allege that the app unlawfully records audio from the microphone without user notification or permission, and that while the app is marketed for providing live stats, scores, and standings, it also tracks users through audio-based beacon technology for the purpose of marketing and advertising. The app determines a user’s precise physical location by secretly activating the user’s smartphone’s built-in…

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Sudanese Refugees’ Copyright Suit Against Movie Makers Survives Motion to Dismiss

In 2015, 54 Sudanese refugees and their foundation, Foundation for Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, Inc., (the Lost Boys) filed suit against the producers and writer of the movie The Good LieThe Good Lie was a 2014 movie starring Reese Witherspoon about the Lost Boys fleeing genocidal activity during the Second Sudanese Civil War and being granted asylum and residency in the US. The writer had interviewed the Lost Boys about their life stories in order to make the movie. Despite promises…

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Indiana High Court Rules State is Not Contractually Obligated to Indemnify Company in Concert Stage Collapse

During the Indiana state fair in 2011, seven people were killed and dozens were injured when the stage collapsed during a concert. In litigation that followed, the company that provided stage rigging took the position that the Indiana State Fair Commission was contractually obligated to indemnify the company for the company’s own negligence. The issue went to the trial court, the intermediate court, and now the high court, which recently ruled unanimously that the Commission is not required to indemnify the company. The company argued…

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Parents of New York High School Football Player File Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The parents of a Staten Island high school football player who died of a heart attack after collapsing at a pre-season workout in September 2014 recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York, the Department of Education, the Fire Department, and the Emergency Medical Services Bureau. According to reports, the 6 foot 2 inch, 295 pound player collapsed after doing wind sprints when the temperature was 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity. The heart attack was reportedly caused by a…

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If Kevin Ward, Jr. Signed a Release, Would His Estate be Barred From Suing Tony Stewart, the Raceway, and Others?

Sprint car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. died recently during a sprint car race at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Canandaigua, NY. He was struck and killed by a car driven by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.  If Ward’s estate were to file a civil suit, the defendants would likely include Stewart, the raceway owner/operator, and Empire Super Sprints Inc., which is the sprint car series that sanctioned the race. One potential legal issue would be the extent to which a release/waiver of liability could be…

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Overbearing Sports Dad or Racketeering Lacrosse Coaches?

Not a question one frequently has occasion to ask.  Earlier this year, the father of a high school lacrosse player in Texas filed a RICO suit in federal court over what he describes as a “pay-for-play” scheme at some of the state’s premier high school lacrosse programs.  (It’s literally the father who filed suit as he is a lawyer and one of the plaintiffs, along with his wife and son, and his firm is the plaintiffs’ counsel.)  This suit follows a similar state court suit…

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Former Portland Timbers Soccer Player Files Concussion Lawsuit Against Team

Former Portland Timbers soccer player Eddie Johnson’s lawsuit is the latest development in the ever-evolving arena of concussion lawsuits by amateur and professional athletes.  This is the second concussion suit brought by a player against an MLS club; Bryan Namoff sued DC United in 2012 and that litigation is ongoing. Johnson filed his Complaint in Oregon state court against the team and its medical staff, alleging that his career ended prematurely because they negligently allowed him to play while he was still suffering from concussion-related…

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