Louisville Ejects Coach Rick Pitino Following FBI Bribery Investigation

Amid a federal bribery scandal, on Wednesday, September 28, 2017, the University of Louisville placed head basketball coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave, which, according to his lawyer, means he has “in effect, been fired.” Federal prosecutors allege Pitino and executives at Adidas funneled $100,000 to the family of a recruit to play basketball at Louisville – a program Adidas sponsors.  Louisville’s athletic director, Tom Jurich, was placed on paid leave. Neither Pitino nor Jurich were specifically named in the criminal complaints that were filed the day before. A poll showed 81 percent of respondents endorsed Pitino’s removal. Pitino is the nation’s highest paid college basketball coach, with a 2017-18 salary of nearly $7.8 million, and the reason he was not fired outright could be financial. Pitino’s contract states ...
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Bribery Scandal Rocks the NCAA

Federal investigators in New York arrested ten individuals and then publicized three complaints on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 that depict a thriving black market for teenage athletes and “the dark underbelly of college basketball.” The covert probe began in 2015, when a fallen financial adviser agreed to wear a wire for the FBI. Calls and meetings were wiretapped, and coaches unknowingly talked to undercover agents posing as financial advisors. One scheme involved four NCAA assistant basketball coaches at schools in the “Power 5” conferences of college sports who solicited and accepted bribes from financial advisers, and in return promised to persuade players to send business to those financial advisers once the players turned professional. One coach charged was Chuck Person from Auburn University, who is accused of accepting a total ...
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Football Coach Immune from Brain Injury Suit, Yet Ruling May Give Hope to Future Players

Sheldon Mann, a high school football player who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a concussion during practice, will not be able to sue his coach or the school district. The Third Circuit affirmed Coach Christopher Walkowiak’s grant of immunity from a lawsuit that Mann’s parents filed in 2014. The appeals judge noted there was considerable dispute around what happened, and whether the coach knew Mann was injured when he allowed him to keep practicing. The head football coach of Palmerton Area School District claimed he did not see Mann get hit, and only noticed Mann rolling his shoulder, to which Mann replied “I’m fine.” However, Mann’s teammates were surprised the coach allowed Mann to continue to play after he took an “exceptionally hard shot to the upper body.” They ...
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Family of Aaron Hernandez Hits NFL and Patriots with Lawsuit After CTE Diagnosis

On September 21, 2017, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, as guardian of Avielle Hernandez, who is four-years-old and Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots for their negligence that caused Aaron Hernandez to develop a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The lawsuit seeks damages for the loss of parental consortium, alleging that the NFL’s and the Patriots’ conduct cost Hernandez’s daughter his love and affection. In a civil cover sheet for the suit the damages demanded was $20 million. After Hernandez’s suicide in April, his brain was examined at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, which is renowned for its research on the disease, to determine whether he had CTE. The examination found that he had stage three out of four of CTE. ...
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Investigation into Deceptive Practices Around NFL Concussion Settlement Continues

Judge Anita Brody, who is overseeing a large NFL concussion settlement, told lawyers on Wednesday that they could look into whether companies are duping a few hundred former NFL players into signing contracts for unneeded services. Judge Brody had already sent out a notice in July to eligible players telling them she would hold a hearing concerning these deceptive practices in September, and, at the hearing on Tuesday, repeatedly asked plaintiffs’ lawyers how she could help. Judge Brody could potentially void any agreements found to be illegal. The New York Times published an article in July describing how the retired players, who could receive up to $5 million from the settlement, are being bombarded with solicitations from companies promising to help the retirees through the “difficult” claims process, while charging ...
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Former Player Objects to Class Counsel Fee Request in NCAA Deal

Despite a final approval on the settlement for the class of former football players’ suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for its handling of concussions, there is still a dispute over how much the class counsel should get for attorney fees. Class counsel requested $15 million for attorney fees, but a former college football player, Anthony Nichols, told the judge that the counsel should not get more than $8 million. Nichols based this number off of the fact that the initial settlement had to be altered twice before it was approved. The settlement agreement was preliminarily approved in July 2016 for $75 million. Of that settlement, $70 million would go toward a fund for medical monitoring to screen the current and former NCAA student-athletes involved in the suit ...
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Ice Cube’s Big3 Basketball League Counters Rival with Defamation Suit

On September 15, 2017, Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 professional basketball league, Big3 Basketball, filed its own lawsuit against rival league, Champions League Inc. for allegedly falsely telling investors that Big3 stole its players. Big3’s suit is in response to Champions League filing a lawsuit earlier in the month that claimed Big3 caused its failure to launch. Both companies are based on a similar business model of featuring retired NBA players. Champions League sued Big3 for $250 million in damages for breaching agreements that allowed players to play in both leagues. In its suit, Champions League claimed it had to postpone its season, which was set to start on August 23, because eight of the 10 starting players for the New York and Los Angeles rosters were blocked by Big3. Champions League ...
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Reebok CCM Contests Sanction Fees from Startup Hockey-Helmet Design Company

In September of 2015, Hefter Impact Technologies LLC filed suit against Reebok-CCM Hockey alleging that Reebok contractually owed royalties on CCM helmets that were derivative of Hefter designs. Hefter is a startup hockey-helmet design company, and it asserts that it has an existing royalty agreement after CCM used Hefter’s outer shell design on a popular hockey helmet. Hefter now alleges that CCM owes it royalties on later helmet models that are also based on its outer shell design. These helmets are so popular that they are worn by a third of all NHL players. In January of 2017, Hefter brought a sanctions motion arguing that CCM employees disregarded a litigation memo hold and destroyed emails, attachments, and contents of a product manager’s laptop computer with hard copy files. In August, ...
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Tattoo Copyright Holder Argues Video Game Depiction is Not Fair Use

On September 12, 2017, Solid Oak Sketches LLC opposed game maker Take-Two Interactive’s, motion for judgment in its favor in suit over video game NBA 2K’s depiction of players’ tattoos. Solid Oak purchased the copyrights from tattoo artists for several basketball stars. Solid Oak filed suit last year alleging the infringement of its copyrights for eight different designs that were etched on LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and others. Along with the suit, Solid Oak offered to let Take-Two use the tattoos in the game for the year in exchange for $819,000, or perpetually for $1.14 million. In August, Take-Two requested the court to throw out the case, claiming that its use of the tattoos in the game was protected by the fair use doctrine or was too trivial to litigate. ...
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Former NHL Enforcer Michael Peluso Goes After His Old Teams for Millions in Head Injury Suit

Back in April, Michael Peluso, former NHL “enforcer,” filed suit against the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, and the team’s insurance companies for intentionally hiding the dangers he faced from continued head injuries arguing that his claims fall outside of workers’ compensation. He argues that a newly discovered medical report shows that the teams knew of the risks of further head injuries, but kept putting him back on the ice. Peluso specifically alleges that the teams serious breaches of legal duties led to him suffering through nine grand mal seizures, early onset dementia, and severe neurological and psychological impairment. His complaint states that he has already spent more than $100,000 on medical bills and speculates his medical care will exceed $10 million over the course of his lifetime. He ...
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