Efforts of UPenn Athletes to Obtain Employee Status Denied Once Again

Following the dismissal of a suit brought by UPenn athletes seeking compensation as employees under the FLSA, the athletes are arguing that the Seventh Circuit’s reliance on a 1992 Seventh Circuit case, which rejected Fair Labor Standards claims brought by a prisoner, essentially placed them on similar legal footing as prison laborers. Though the athletes are aware fighting for employee status as college athletes is far-fetched based on the courts’ consistent denial of such claims, the UPenn athletes’ argument rests on the proposition that they did not get a fair stab at discovery, and they should have, which places them in a similar legal status as prisoners. The case the court relied on in its dismissal was Vanskike v. Peters, in which the court focused on the “economic reality” of ...
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NCAA Faces Another Concussion Class Action Over Breach of Protective Duty

The NCAA faces another potential class action after several former college football players filed suit in Indiana federal court attacking the organization’s concussion protocol, or lack thereof. Some might say the organization should have seen it coming in light of the modified $75 million dollar medical monitoring settlement the NCAA reached with players last May. The original settlement was modified out of concerns that the settlement would preclude players from bringing individual personal injury claims based on contract principles, and left open the possibility of athletes suing their individual colleges on behalf of a single sport. And that is just what college athletes have been doing ever since. The group of former players alleges that the NCAA breached the contracts embedded in the players’ agreements by failing to protect and ...
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Former NHL Players Bringing Concussion Suit Ask Court to Unseal Concussion Class Certification Docs

Several former NHL players brought a concussion suit against the National Hockey League in 2013 based on allegations that they have all experienced long-term neurological issues as a direct result of concussions sustained while playing for the league; a suit precipitated by a settlement between the NFL and thousands of former players over similar allegations. The players claim the league neglected to provide adequate protection and information re concussion dangers and the possible repercussions. One of the players’ experts opined that the average NHL player sustains 1-3 blows to the head with the potential to cause permanent brain damage in every game, and that this was being conservative. In December of 2016, the players initiated a class certification of players qualifying for medical monitoring and those who have been diagnosed ...
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Maryland Adopts Daily Fantasy Sports Regulations

Maryland’s fashionably late adoption of daily fantasy sports regulations went into effect on January 2, 2017, providing several consumer safeguards  in the industry. State regulations surrounding the industry came flooding in after fantasy sport kingpins DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc. faced a number of class action suits in 2015. Maryland’s regulations appear much less restrictive than most, however, in that they do not require operators to shell out a high registration fee (Virginia requires a whopping $50,000), and they set its minimum age at 18 as opposed to the majority of states, which require players to be 21. The regulations create a $1,000 ceiling for player’s monthly deposits, a number that is low for high-volume DFS participants. In addition, professional athletes are precluded from participating in contests in their respective ...
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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 prevent college athletes from being paid. Pay for play and other issues related to amateurism often make headline news these days, two examples being the O’Bannon v. NCAA case and Northwestern University football players trying to unionize. One LEAD1 committee is chaired by the Northwestern athletic director, who ...
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Documents Show Fox News Settled Sexual Harassment Case Against Bill O’Reilly

Fox News network has settled another sexual harassment scandal. Juliet Huddy, a local New York television personality, has alleged that both Bill O’Reilly and longtime Fox executive, Jack Abernethy, pursued her, albeit, unsuccessfully for sexual relationships. She rebuffed both relationships to her own demise. Fox has denied Huddy’s allegations, but nevertheless, settled the potential lawsuit for a disclosed sum on money combined with an expensive confidentiality clause. Huddy and her family are well-known to the Fox family. Her father, John Huddy Sr., was consultant to Fox News and a friend to former network executive, Roger Ailes. Her brother, John Huddy Jr., continues to work there as a correspondent based in Jerusalem. Huddy’s attorneys drafted a letter to Fox News detailing the allegations, a letter also anonymously forwarded to the New ...
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Former NFL Player Asks Court to Send Texas Turf Injury Suit Back to State Court

Former Texas Houston linebacker Demeco Ryans has sued his former team for over $10 million in compensation for a no-contact, career-ending injury he sustained in 2014 while playing at NRG stadium. Ryans alleges the injury was a result of the field’s poor condition, and that the Houston Texans breached their duty to provide NFL players with a safe playing surface. The lawsuit also cites numerous complaints by other NFL players re the playing surface at NRG Stadium, which effectively put NRG on notice of the poor conditions and injuries. Ryans suffered a career-ending Achilles tendon injury he contributed to the “seams” in the playing surface. His claim focused on the fact that “but for” the stadium field, there is a reasonable probability that he would have continued playing in the ...
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As March Madness Looms, NCAA Opens Another Violation Investigation into UNC Academic Practices

Just when the University of North Carolina thought it was past the rounds of sanctions centering on academic integrity issues, the NCAA filed a third “Notice of Allegations” as 2016 came to a close. In the most recent notice, the NCAA alleged that the university provided improper extra benefits to student-athletes so that they could remain eligible for athletic competition. The notice goes on to allege that members of the men’s basketball and football programs received improper benefits, restoring a reference to the university’s premier athletic programs that had previously been stricken from earlier NCAA notices of allegations. This is another notch in a long string of alleged NCAA violations that began in May 2015. One of the NCAA notices detailed how professors would compose writing assignments for student-athletes, and ...
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NFL Retirement Plan Asks Fourth Circuit to Deny Benefits to Player Disabled by Symptoms of CTE

Issues from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) have started to seep into other parts of retired NFL players’ lives. Attorneys for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan recently asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Maryland District Court’s order granting retired NFL linebacker Jesse Solomon disability benefits. The District Court ruled in favor for Solomon after finding that the Social Security Administration determined that Solomon had been disabled within a fifteen year window. In order to receive disability coverage, a player must show evidence that a disability manifested itself within that time period. Solomon played in the NFL for nine seasons after being drafted in the twelfth round of the 1986 NFL draft, playing with the Vikings, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Falcons, and Dolphins, where he finished his ...
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Could a Sport’s Revenue be the Difference-Maker in Fight for Paid Student-Athletes?

A federal judge in California held a Seventh Circuit’s decision inapplicable to the Fair Labor Standards Act case brought by former University of Southern California linebacker, Lamar Dawson. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg rejected the defendants’ motion to stay the wage-and-hour case in spite of the NCAA and PAC 12’s motion to dismiss Dawson’s claims. Dawson brought this class action suit after leaving USC in December 2015, arguing he was “denied full pay for all hours worked, including overtime pay, and was frequently permitted to work without receiving required minimum wage payments.” In arguing against the motions to delay his current case, Dawson contended that the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Berger v. NCAA was not applicable to this case because track and field is not a revenue-producing sport. In that ...
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