AB 1309 Signed Into Law: New Bar Officially Raised Against “Cumulative Trauma” Type Claims in California

In prior articles (see “Closing the California Workers’ Compensation Loophole: AB 1309 Awaits Governor’s Signature” and “Stemming the California Workers’ Compensation “Gold Rush”: AB 1309”), we have been tracking the status of controversial Assembly Bill 1309, a bill introduced in order to halt “cumulative trauma” claims filed by current or former athletes from across several professional leagues who may have had limited playing time in the State of California, but have filed claims there in order to take advantage of its more-lenient workers’ compensation system. Following bipartisan approval in the California Senate and Assembly, Governor Jerry Brown approved AB 1309 on October 8. The bill, as amended through the California legislature, sets up carefully defined situations in which an out-of-state sports player may file a “cumulative trauma” claim in California. ...
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Was Vijay Singh “Singhled” Out?

Late last month, we reported that the PGA Tour asked the court to dismiss Vijay Singh’s public humiliation claims.  While the judge has yet to make a decision on that motion, recently released court transcripts from the oral arguments show that Singh thinks he was discriminated against. Singh’s attorney claimed that Singh was singled out in his punishment.  He said the tour treated Singh differently than others for some reason.  It could be “because Mr. Singh isn’t from the United States or Mr. Singh didn’t go to the right PGA party or Mr. Singh did something that Tim Finchem didn’t like.”  But, whatever the reason, the Tour did not follow its historical pattern of “exception after exception” with regards to its administration and punishments under the drug policy. In 2011, ...
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NFL Just Can’t Outrun the Concussion Lawsuits

No matter how hard the NFL tries to get away from the concussion lawsuits, they won’t go away. Most recently, former Chicago Bears quarterback Bobby Douglass, and former Northwestern player, John Cornell, are suing the NFL and helmet manufacture Riddell. On November 4, 2013, the two former players filed suit alleging concussion-related injuries resulting from their time on the field. Douglass, 66, was quarterback for the Chicago Bears from 1969 to 1975. He later went on to play for the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers. Cornell, 66, is a Northwestern graduate that participated in two NFL training camps with the New Orleans Saints. The former players claim they suffered multiple concussions and subconcussive brain injuries that put them at risk for brain damage and chronic ...
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Professional Athletes Fighting “Jock Taxes”

Professional athletes in two states are fighting “jock taxes.”  Arguing that the taxes are “unfair and unconstitutional,” players are telling Tennessee and Ohio they want their money back. A “jock tax” raises state or city tax revenues by taxing athletes who play in those locations.  These taxes are imposed on professional athletes in a number of places such as the state of Tennessee and the cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Philadelphia.  The general idea is that athletes are charged a certain amount to play in the city or state because the money was earned there.  The amount depends on which method of calculation is used by the location. The attacks on “jock tax” laws are targeting different points of the laws in an attempt to force reimbursement.  In Cleveland, ...
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NFL Bullying: Boys Will Be Boys?

How bad could things be for Jonathan Martin? The 24-year-old received a signing bonus of $1,919,468 from the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League last year after leaving Stanford as a second round draft pick. He is guaranteed his entire 2013 salary of $479,867. He is one of approximately 1,800 individuals fortunate enough to be on an NFL roster. He is a starting offensive tackle, one of the most lucrative positions in all of professional football. Considering that the franchise tag for an NFL offensive lineman is $9,660,000 in 2013, it is reasonable to think that the second-year player could be looking at a $10 million per year when his rookie contract expires after the end of the 2015 season. As Timbuk3 would say, “His future’s so bright, he’s ...
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$50M Settlement Approved in NFL Retirees’ Publicity Rights Suit

A Minnesota federal judge approved a $50 million settlement in a case over the publicity rights of more than 25,000 NFL retirees. Calling it a “historic settlement,” the judge stated it is “very creative and it’s very exciting to see this opportunity being provided to retired players for the first time.” Despite the objection of 19 players, on November 1, 2013, the judge granted final approval of the settlement. The judge noted that “only one-tenth of one percent of the class objected and less than 10 percent requested to opt out.” He stated, “the objections raised here are without merit. Nearly all of the objections boil down to what is, in the court’s view, the objector’s very mistaken belief that they could reap significant financial benefits from continuing the case.” ...
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What the Hells (Angels)? Young Jeezy Sued Over Skull Logo

It’s a strange day when the Hells Angels motorcycle club goes to court by choice; but, that’s exactly what it did recently.  Rather than using bats, knives, and chains to protect its logo, the Angels filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court.  According to TMZ, the club filed suit against 8732 Apparel and Dillard’s, Inc. for infringing on its “Death Head” logo. 8732 Apparel, owned by rapper Young Jeezy, sells a wide range of attire including hats, jackets, shirts, and more.  The Angles say 8732 uses a copy of club’s logo on jackets and hats it sells and is making substantial profits by doing so.  Notably the “Bandits Vest”, shown in the image above and one of the allegedly infringing items, is currently unavailable on 8732’s website. The club ...
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The Infamous Chris Brown is in Trouble Again

Chris Brown is a Grammy-winning R&B star who has sold millions of albums, but to many, he’s known more for his rap sheet than his music. The singer’s latest brush with the law came on October 27, as Brown was arrested for assault following an altercation outside a Washington D.C. hotel. According to reports, charges were filed after an individual accused Brown and his bodyguard of punching him and breaking his nose. Some reports allege that the man attempted to unlawfully enter Brown’s tour bus to take pictures. The following day, Brown appeared with counsel for his arraignment, and in a positive development for the singer, charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and he was released. The maximum penalty on the reduced charge is 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Brown is set to return to court November 25.
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Judge Allows NCAA Athletes’ Antitrust Claims to Proceed

A U.S. District Judge in California, Claudia Wilken, rejected all of the NCAA’s arguments to dismiss antitrust claims against it in connection with the use of student athletes’ names and likenesses.  According to the athletes, the NCAA and others are making huge profits by selling rights that should belong to the players.  On October 25, 2013, Wilken ruled that those claims could proceed to the next stage of litigation. The athletes contend that antitrust laws are applicable because they are forced to give up their rights in order to compete.  As a condition of eligibility, the NCAA requires athletes to sign a release form.  The form specifies that athletes will relinquish all rights to the commercial use of their images in perpetuity. The suit further alleges that the NCAA has ...
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Photographers Want to Capture Their Rights

Seven professional photographers sued the NFL, Getty Images (Getty), and the Associated Press (AP) for violating the photographers’ copyrights. The freelance photographers (plaintiffs) filed the lawsuit in New York federal court on October 21, 2013. The lawsuit claims that the three defendants are liable for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The plaintiffs allege that the NFL failed to receive consent to use plaintiffs’ photos in connection with NFL advertisements, news, promotions, and products. Freelance photographers regularly license their photos through third-party licensing agents. They are not paid salaries or even “day rates” for their services by the NFL or their agents. Instead, the photographers retain the copyrights in their photos and earn royalties from licensing their work to the NFL. Plaintiffs’ attorney Kevin McCulloch said ...
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