Heat is Off the Spurs for Resting Star Players as Class-Action Suit is Dropped

On March 29, 2013, Attorney Larry McGuinness voluntarily withdrew a putative class action lawsuit against the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.  The suit had accused the team of wrongfully benching several star players (Tim Duncan, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker) in a November 29, 2012 game against the defending NBA champion Miami heat.  Plaintiffs argued that the move caused the plaintiffs (i.e. the ticket holders to the event) economic damage because they had paid premium prices to attend the proposed star-studded event but were forced to watch the Spurs’ benchwarmers drop a close contest to the Heat.  At the very least, McGuinness felt that the league should have warned ticket-holders of the move as soon as the decision was made.  NBA Commissioner David Stern ended up slapping the Spurs ...
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On March 27, 2013, in a narrow 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded a Third Circuit decision upholding the class-action certification in a lawsuit accusing Comcast Corp. of unlawfully monopolizing the Philadelphia cable market. The Court’s decision to reverse the appellate court ruling hinged on the methodology the Third Circuit used in calculating damages – namely, that the decision to certify the class had impermissibly ignored expert testimony and wrongfully added damage amounts related to claims that had been dismissed.  Justice Scalia opined, “The [lower courts] saw no need for respondents to ‘tie each theory of antitrust impact’ to a calculation of damages.  That, they said, would involve consideration of the ‘merits’ having ‘no place in the class certification inquiry.’ . . .  That reasoning flatly contradicts ...
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NFL Star Considering Malpractice Suit

A recent contract negotiation blunder may result in a hefty malpractice claim by a professional football player against his agent.  The former agent for NFL defensive end, Elvis Dumervil, is in hot water over his handling of Dumervil’s contract negotiations with the Denver Broncos.  Due to his agent’s failure to timely transmit an executed contract to the team worth $8 million per year, Dumervil is unemployed and considering a suit. NFL teams must decide whether to release or retain players by a league imposed deadline.  Here, the Denver Broncos informed Dumervil and his (former) agent, Marty Magid, prior to the deadline that the team would release him unless the parties renegotiated the contract.  This practice is not uncommon in the NFL.  The parties timely agreed to the terms of a restructured deal worth $8 ...
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Were the NFL & Riddell Out of Bounds for Rejecting Competitor’s Potentially Concussion Reducing Helmet?

Industrial designer Phil Straus began thinking of ways to lessen the impact of football head injuries and concussions in the late 1980s.  After several years of work Straus developed a prototype of the “ProCap” in 1989 by attaching a half-inch-thick urethane mold on top of traditional football helmets.  His work showed signs of promise in lab tests, and later gained acceptance by a number of NFL players who swore that the invention functioned as advertised.  Mark Kelso, former Buffalo Bills free safety, swore by the ProCap, stating “It prolonged my career for years . . . I took a lot of kidding – getting called ‘Bubblehead’ and ‘Gazoo’ – because of how it looked, but I stopped getting concussions.”  Over the next several years, several other NFL players began using ...
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Athletes Awarded Millions from California’s Workers Compensation System

All states allow athletes to be awarded workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained during their playing days.  However, California has emerged as a favorite jurisdiction for two reasons.  First, California is one of the few states that allow athletes to claim injuries for the cumulative effect of injuries over time, or what some jurisdictions would call either an “occupational disease” or “cumulative injury.”  Second, California has extremely lax personal jurisdiction requirements. Ordinarily, a claimant in a workers’ compensation claim would need to establish residency or some other significant contacts with the state in which they are claiming benefits.  However, judges in California have taken what could charitably be called an expanded view of the significant contacts question.  Terrell Davis, who played his entire 88 game NFL career with the Denver ...
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NFL Goes 0 for 2 Against Insurance Companies in Court

The National Football League is now 0-2. It lost yet another round on the legal gridiron last week when New York State Supreme Court Judge, Jeffrey K. Oing, ruled that the lawsuit between the NFL and its insurance companies could proceed in NY.  This is despite the fact that the NFL filed a similar lawsuit in California first. This echoes a previous ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley Jr. who held last fall that California was the wrong venue to deal with these coverage issues. The primary issue in these cases is whether the NFL’s insurance companies (past and present) owe coverage to the NFL in the lawsuits brought by former and current NFL players over concussion-related injuries. Both sides are fighting for legal home-field advantage ...
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NY AG Says NFL Can’t Fish for Information about Player’s Sexual Orientation at Combine

On March 14, 2013, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a warning letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after rumors emerged that the league was asking players about their sexual preferences when they reported to the scouting combine – employer behavior which is illegal in many jurisdictions.   The questions at issue were directed to three incoming college players who were allegedly asked whether they had girlfriends, whether they were married, or whether or not they “liked girls.” New York prohibits prospective employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual preference.  Twenty of the league’s 32 teams are in jurisdictions with similar laws.  The move by New York’s AG was aimed at preventing the league’s use of such questioning in the future.  Schneiderman remained positive about the situation, stating “I ...
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Nintendo Clobbered by Tomita with $30 Million Verdict in Patent Litigation

On March 13, 2013, a jury awarded a $30.2 million dollar verdict to Tomita Technologies International Inc. in its patent infringement with the Nintendo Co. Ltd.  Tomita’s suit accused Nintendo of infringing on its “Stereoscopic imaging picking up and display system based upon optical axes cross-point information” patent (which displays 3-D images viewable without special glasses) by using the technology in Nintendo’s 3DS hand-held video game system.  . Seijiro Tomita (the founder of Tomita Technologies) spent 30 years working at Sony as an engineer/inventor, and has been listed as an inventor/co-inventor for almost 70 patents from across the globe.  Tomita’s attorneys expressed satisfaction with the ruling, stating “”We are thankful to the jurors for their diligence and hard work . . . .  It has been a honor to represent ...
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The Islamic Republic of Iran takes on Producers of ‘Argo’

Iran is considering suing the producers of Argo claiming that the Oscar winning best picture provided an unrealistic portrayal of the country during the seizure of the United States Embassy in 1979.  The decision to potentially litigate resulted from a recent screening of the film by Iranian cultural officials and movie critics in Tehran as part of an event entitled “The Hoax of Hollywood”.  The Iranian government alleges that the film is an attack on Iranian culture and international cultural norms. The film depicts the clandestine rescue of six Americans who escaped the militant take over of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took refuge in the Canadian embassy.  The movie was produced by its director, Ben Affleck, as well as by actors George Clooney and Grant Heslov.  It is ...
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NFL Teams Up with GE to Fund New Concussion Research

On March 11, 2013, the National Football League and the General Electric Co. announced that they are teaming up to create a Head Health Initiative that will provide $60 million dollars to assist leading neurologists in researching traumatic brain injuries and developing technology able to monitor these ailments.  $40 million will go towards developing imaging technologies, and the remaining $20 million will be available to others who seek to prevent, identify, and develop treatments for brain injuries.  Athletic apparel company Under Armour will also be providing $5 million dollars in support for the cause. Jeff Immelt, GE Chairman and CEO, indicated that scientific support for the research would be top-notch.  “We’re trying to do this with the best minds anywhere in the world,” he noted in a news conference.  He ...
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