Update: Penn State Seeks Stay of McQueary Suit

On Monday, October 22, 2012, Penn State filed a motion to stay former assistant football coach Mike McQueary’s whistleblower and defamation lawsuit.  McQueary’s suit alleges wrongdoing by former Penn State athletics director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz.  Curley and Schultz allegedly failed to report child abuse after McQueary told them he saw Jerry Sandusky raping a boy in a shower.  McQueary testified about this to a grand jury, and then Penn State allegedly fired him as a result.  Curley and Schultz are presently facing criminal charges and awaiting trial for lying to the grand jury about the extent to which they reported the abuse. Penn State is arguing that McQueary’s suit should be stayed until the parallel criminal proceedings are concluded. The university has filed motions to stay other civil suits ...
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Judge Tells Plaintiff to ‘Just Go Away’ in Mötley Crüe Copyright Suit

Recently, U.S. District Judge John F. Grady dismissed a copyright infringement suit brought against the band Mötley Crüe in alleging the band improperly used copyrighted photos of themselves – photos acquired and copyrighted by Plaintiff Ron Toma in 2008 – as backdrops for recent rock concerts.  Toma filed suit against the band in the Northern District of Illinois. Judge Grady’s decision noted that the band had only “sporadic” contacts with Illinois, making the state an inappropriate forum for the action, stating “[t]hese contacts are extensive in the aggregate, but they are insufficient to meet the demanding standard required to subject the defendants to general jurisdiction.”  Still, Judge Grady noted that Toma was free to file his suit elsewhere – so long as it occurred outside of Illinois. Notably, this is not ...
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ANALYSIS: McQueary Files Whistleblower and Defamation Suit Against Penn State

Mike McQueary, a former assistant football coach at Penn State, has filed a $4 million whistleblower and defamation lawsuit against the school.  The suit stems from Penn State’s alleged retaliation against McQueary after he testified against school officials during the child sex abuse scandal. According to the McQueary Complaint filed in Pennsylvania state court, in 2010, McQueary testified before a grand jury that he saw Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing a child in the showers at Penn State in 2001.  McQueary testified that he reported the abuse to then head coach Joe Paterno the morning after he saw the abuse, and that he reported the abuse nine or ten days later to then athletics director Tim Curley and then vice president Gary Schultz.  According to the complaint, Curley and Schultz told McQueary that ...
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Clint Eastwood Takes on Another Chair: Settles Lawsuit Against Furniture Manufacturer

Clint Eastwood has reached a settlement in his lawsuit against Evofurniture LLC which accused the furniture manufacturer of impermissibly using Eastwood’s name on various furniture products – such as chairs, ottomans, and entertainment centers – without permission.  Among other things, the action asserted claims of misappropriation of name and persona.  According to a court notice filed on October 15, 2012, the settlement includes the issuance of an injunction barring Evofurniture from naming any furniture products after Eastwood in the future.  Monetary terms of the settlement are undisclosed. Among the notable examples cited in Eastwood’s complaint was an advertisement which stated that the “Clint” entertainment center made it “look like you live in a perfect world of a million-dollar baby”.  Another advertisement suggested that purchasers of the “Clint” entertainment center should ...
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Lance Armstrong Steps Down from Livestrong, Dropped by Nike

Days before the Livestrong Foundation’s 15th anniversary celebration, its founder, Lance Armstrong, announced this morning that he is stepping down as Chairman.   Nike, Inc. also announced today that it is terminating its contract with Armstrong based on the “seemingly insurmountable evidence” that Armstrong participated in doping.  Nike will continue its support of Livestrong initiatives.  Both announcements follow the release of a report last week by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency which included testimony from several former teammates that Armstrong both used and trafficked performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career.  Armstrong was banned from competitive cycling and stripped of his titles by the USADA in August. Nike, Inc. Statement Armstrong Dropped by Nike, Steps Down as Chairman of His Charity
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Court Rules ‘Bachelor’/’Bachelorette” Casting Directors Free to Give Roses to Applicants of Their Choosing

A Tennessee federal judge dismissed a race bias class action against ABC Inc. and the producer of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” determining that the show’s casting decisions are “part and parcel of the creative process behind a television program” and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Individuals Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson filed the suit in April, alleging that ABC intentionally excluded minorities from the hit reality series, thereby perpetuating “outdated racial taboos.” Although “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” have aired for a combined total of 23 seasons, no minority has ever starred on the programs. The complaint suggests that “[t]he exclusion of people of color from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette sends the message — to whites and racial minorities —that only all-white relationships are worthy of national attention.” According ...
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USADA Finds Armstrong’s Doping a Team Effort

On October 10, 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a report laying out the reasons behind its August decision to ban Lance Armstrong from competitive cycling, as well as strip him of his racing titles (which include seven Tour-de-France victories).  The allegations, which include testimony taken from over a dozen witnesses (including several former teammates), state that Armstrong had both used and trafficked the drugs EPO and testosterone. At one point, the report accused Armstrong of perpetuating a “doping culture” on his racing team, painting him as a wrongdoer with a “small army of supporters,” enablers who assisted him – and forced his teammates – to use illegal drugs in violation of international doping bans.  It later stated, “[t]he evidence is overwhelming that Lance Armstrong did not just use performance ...
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Dat’s My Slogan…‘Big Easy’ Coffee Shop Sued Over Trademarked Rallying Cry

On October 4th, 2012,  Judge Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana denied Who Dat Yat Chat, LLC’s motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss Who Dat Inc.’s lawsuit claiming trademark infringement for use of the slogan, “Who Dat”.  “Who Dat,” the Saint’s rallying cry, was previously trademarked by Who Dat Inc., co-merchandiser with the National Football League, which produced an Aaron Neville song in 1983 using the slogan, according to lawyers for Who Dat Inc. Who Dat Yat Chat, a coffee shop, sought to have Who Dat Inc.’s suit dismissed claiming that the phase was “abandoned” by Who Dat Inc. since it has not sold merchandising bearing the trademark for more than three years.  It also argued there would be no infringement since the mark would be used in ...
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No Doubt Settles ‘Band Hero’ Lawsuit over Avatars with Activision

On October 3, 2012, popular musicians No Doubt settle their ongoing lawsuit against Activision Publishing, Inc. over the use of the group’s ‘avatars’ in the ‘Band Hero’ video game. No Doubt had filed suit for breach of contract and right to publicity claims when it was discovered that players could use the No Doubt avatars to perform songs in the game by other musicians. No Doubt alleged that they had been “turned into a virtual karaoke act” by the game, and asserted that the game feature negatively affected their “carefully crafted public image.” They argued that their ‘avatars’ should only be allowed to perform the three No Doubt singles the group licensed to Activision for inclusion in the game. Previous attempts by Activision to have the case dismissed were all ...
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GUEST EXPERT ANALYSIS: Why the Lockout Strategy did not work for the NFL and why the NHL is in a Different Position

Looking for a repeat of its successful bargaining strategy of locking out players, the National Football League locked out its 121 part-time referees in June following the expiration of the National Football League Referees Association contract on May 31, 2012.  Three months later, the NFL decreased its demand for concessions and increased its wage proposal in order to end this work stoppage before the replacement referees made another bad call on the field that changed the outcome of another game.  Most people credit the call awarding a touchdown to Seattle’s Golden Tate at the end of the Monday Night Football Game between the Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers on September 24, 2012; however, there were at least five factors that caused the NFL’s lockout strategy to fail. In early ...
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