NFL Removes Hernandez Suit to Federal Court

On November 14, 2017, the NFL removed Aaron Hernandez’s daughter’s lawsuit to Massachusetts federal court. The lawsuit seeks to hold the NFL, as well as helmet maker Riddell, Inc. accountable for Hernandez’s development of severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The NFL moved the case to federal court based on their assertion that the claim arises under federal law. Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle, filed the suit initially in Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. She claimed the NFL and Riddell hid and downplayed the risks of playing football in Riddell helmets for years. This suit was a refiling after a withdrawal of the previously filed suit against the NFL and the New England Patriots in federal court alleging nearly the same claim. After Hernandez committed suicide in prison earlier this year, ...
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NCAA Hopes for Slam Dunk in Trademark Infringement Suit

The NCAA, on November 13, 2017, asked for a default judgment and a permanent injunction against Kizzang LLC and its owner, Robert Alexander, for alleged trademark infringement of “March Madness” and “Final Four.” A judge had issued a stipulated order back in March under which Alexander and Kizzang agreed not to use “April Madness” or “Final 3” in its online fantasy games. The suit was originally filed in March 2017, less than a week before the NCAA’s annual Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. It was filed after the NCAA had opposed Kizzang’s attempt to get its own trademark registration on “April Madness” in February 2015. After an extension was granted for Alexander and Kizzang to answer the complaint, the NCAA moved for default in July, when the revised deadline passed. ...
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U.S. Army Shoots Back at Holding that “West Point” is Not a Registrable Trademark

An examiner at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board refused to register the U.S. Army’s military academy crest and the words “Army West Point” unless the Army disclaimed the words “West Point.” The examiner ruled that “West Point” was not a registrable trademark, but rather a “primarily geographically descriptive” name, referring to the town of West Point, New York. Last year, the Army applied to register the famous military academy’s crest — an Athena helmet on a shield with the words “Duty Honor Country West Point” — as a trademark for a wide range of different goods and services; it also applied to register “Army West Point” in standard characters for cellphone accessories. The Army filed a motion for reconsideration alongside its appeal. “The term ‘West Point’ is not primarily significant ...
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Ex-Softball Coach Sues FDU; Alleges Termination Based on Bisexuality

On November 7, 2016, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s (FDU) former softball coach, Katherine Kelley, sued the university in New Jersey state court for alleged discrimination against her for being bisexual, and that she was fired for speaking out against bullies on the team. Kelley is seeking compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress for the university’s actions against her, and alleged FDU violated New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act and Law Against Discrimination, as well as breached her employment contract. Kelley also claimed FDU did not follow its own policies and procedures for harassment and discrimination complaints. Kelley alleged that the issues that eventually led to her termination began shortly after she became the Division I softball coach in November 2015. She stated FDU employees clearly perceived her as bisexual ...
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Eight People Indicted in NCAA Bribery Scandal

A series of indictments unsealed on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 reveal more of the iceberg of the dark underbelly of college basketball. The scandal was publicized in September when ten individuals were arrested. The new indictments named Adidas executive Jim Gatto, sports agent Christian Dawkins, Auburn University associate head coach Chuck Person, Oklahoma State University assistant coach Lamont Evans, University of Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson, University of Southern California assistant coach Anthony Bland, former Adidas adviser Merl Code and former NCAA referee Rashan Michel. The University of Louisville had already effectively fired Rick Pitino at the end of September after he was charged in the scandal. Pitino was the nation’s highest paid college basketball coach. One indictment alleges that Dawkins asked Pitino to call Gatto and ask Adidas to ...
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Al Jazeera America Argues MLB Players Must Subpoena Reporter in Libel Suit

On November 6, 2017, Al Jazeera America LLC moved that it does not need to provide documents in response to the MLB players’ motion to compel the company to give information an undercover reporter gathered in 2015. The move is the latest in the libel case filed by MLB players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard in January 2016 that alleged Al Jazeera America recklessly published the 2015 documentary “The Dark Side” and an accompanying article, and damaged their reputations. The documentary revealed the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, which led to several sports leagues conducting investigations, including the MLB. Specifically, the documentary portrayed pharmacist Charles Sly claiming Zimmerman and Howard, amongst others, had ordered shipments of performance-enhancing drugs. Sly recanted his claim since the documentary was released, and both ...
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WWE Asserts Wrestler Admitted to Attorney Solicitation in Podcast

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) made another move on November 6, 2017, to further its allegations that attorney Matthew Peterson solicited Marcus “Buff” Bagwell and Scott “Raven” Levy to file suit against WWE for royalties. WWE made a motion to compel phone call records and information that was allegedly improperly redacted from the phone records previously given to WWE in discovery. WWE focused on an interview Bagwell had last year on the podcast “Pancakes and Powerslams” where he stated he would not have sued WWE if Peterson had not called him and asked him to look into his contract. The interview also is alleged to contradict Bagwell’s answers on how he and Levy became plaintiffs in the suit for royalties connected to the WWE Network on-demand streaming service. Specifically, in ...
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Three UCLA Basketball Players Arrested in China

Three UCLA men’s basketball players were arrested Tuesday, November 7th in Hangzhou, China for allegedly shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel. Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were kept for a number of hours at a police station and questioned, but treated “with the utmost respect,” and were released on bail around 4 a.m. on Wednesday. Ball is the younger brother of NBA rookie Lonzo Ball of the L.A. Lakers, and the son of LaVar Ball, the CEO of athletic apparel maker Big Baller Brand. Three Georgia Tech players were also questioned, but were later released after authorities determined they were not involved. The players are confined to their hotel until the legal process is over. The players could be detained for ...
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Student-Athletes Square Up Against Lone Objector to Attorneys Fee Award in $209 Million NCAA Settlement

The fight over legal fees from the second-largest class-action settlement in NCAA history continues. One sole student-athlete objected to the $41 million attorneys’ fee award, which is 20 percent of the $208.7 million settlement. NCAA Division I football player, Darrin Duncan, called the fee award unfair and wanted to apply to the “mega fund rule,” which decreases fee awards as the settlement total increases. Plaintiffs’ class counsel had argued back in September that the fee request was reasonable considering the Ninth Circuit’s 25 percent fee benchmark, the risk the lawyers took in not receiving any compensation, and the enormous amount of work that went into the litigation. Counsel for the class filed a response to Duncan’s objection on November 3, 2017, calling the objection “absurd” and pointing out “the fact ...
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Ex-Wrestlers Try Again at WWE Head Trauma Suit

On November 3, 2017, former World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) wrestlers filed an amended complaint for their concussion suit against WWE. The amended complaint is in response to a Connecticut federal judge allowing the wrestlers last month to file more succinct pleadings, despite stating she was more inclined to side with WWE. The case goes back to 2015 when WWE faced several lawsuits that alleged WWE concealed long-term health risks of repeated blows to the head and increased that danger by misleading injured wrestlers into performing. Six cases brought by wrestlers were consolidated in Connecticut, with the Laurinaitis case as the most recent addition in September 2016. The ex-wrestlers alleged that WWE routinely failed to care for their repetitive head injuries in any medically competent way throughout their careers. Further ...
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