Power Play: Former NHL Players Shoot for Stay of Deadlines and Bellwethers in NHL Concussion Lawsuit

On May 5, 2017, former National Hockey League players currently engaged in the concussion lawsuit submitted a letter requesting a stay of all deadlines surrounding their bid for class certification. This letter was drafted per an instruction from U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, who ordered both parties to confer and simultaneously send letters outlining their positions. In the letter, the players indicate it would be impracticable to be expected to depose the NHL’s 19 experts, oppose five expert motions in limine, obtain rebuttal expert declaration from their own experts, and reply to the NHL’s 96-page opposition brief by the current deadline of June 29, 2017. At the same time and in an effort to keep the litigation advancing forward, the former players’ suggest that the two parties prepare and ...
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There’s a Doctor in the House: Two Groups of Medical Experts Approved by District Judge in NFL Concussion Settlement

On May 4, 2017, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody approved two groups of medical experts in the NFL concussion settlement. These experts will lead the testing and diagnosing of players in the class to determine whether each member has a neurological condition which will qualify them for recovery under the terms of the settlement. A list comprised of these experts was submitted last month. Per the Approval signed by Judge Brody, the two panels of experts for this Settlement Program are the Appeals Advisory Panel (the AAP) and the Appeals Advisory Panel Consultants (the AAPC). The AAP is to be comprised of five board-certified medical experts who will: (1) review certain Qualifying Diagnoses made prior to the Settlement’s effective date; (2) handle disputes when a retired player’s medical provider and ...
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Professional Gamers Scheduled to Participate in NBA Esports League

Two months ago, esports league and Take-Two Interactive announced they were creating a competitive esports league centered on Take-Two’s popular NBA 2k video game. Since that announcement, 17 NBA teams have agreed that they would participate in the NBA 2k esports league’s inaugural season, which is set to debut in 2018. The creation of the league is notable in that it will be the first esports league that is run by a U.S. professional sports organization. Currently, the season is set to debut with esports teams from the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, and Washington Wizards. Each team will have ...
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Will NFL Players Begin Wearing Tech on Uniforms?

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) stated that its newly unveiled business accelerator has entered into an agreement with Whoop Inc., which will provide players with fitness tracking devices that they can wear. Notably, the deals allows players to retain ownership of the data they collect. As background, OneTeam Collective, a business incubator launched by the players union in December to help emerging sports-related companies grow by leveraging the licensing rights and advice of pro athletes. According to the NFLPA, the deal ensures that all NFL players, whether current or incoming, will receive a device to track their strain, recovery and sleep. Subsequently, the data will then be transmitted to Whoop’s web-based apps. Under the agreement, NFL players are presented with the opportunity to design custom licensed bands for ...
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Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Former-NCAA Champions’ Likeness Suit

The Ninth Circuit has affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit of two former college basketball players against a website that sold official NCAA photos, as the website’s rights under federal copyright law preempted the players’ publicity rights. As background, two former Division III college basketball players, Patrick Maloney and Tim Judge, sued T3Media in June, 2014 regarding the Website’s deal with the NCAA to host and license the League’s photos. Maloney and Judge were part of the 2001 NCAA championship team — Catholic University. Pursuant to the agreement, the T3Media sold digital copies of the copyrighted photos on its website. The photos included images from the 2001 championship games, and T3Media was issued both commercial- and personal-use-licenses. In their suit, the former players accused T3Media of violating and depriving them ...
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Another Sports Concussion Suit: NHL Enforcer Sues Various NHL Teams and Insurer

Mike Peluso, a former NHL enforcer, slapped the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, and an insurer with a lawsuit, is maintaining that a “newly discovered” medical report proves the teams were aware of the risks associated with head injuries, and nevertheless, continued to encourage him to play and fight. According to Peluso, he has played in over 450 games as an enforcer — a position with the primary purpose of agitating opponents and getting into fights in order to shield the skilled players — and the various teams and insurer knew about the long-term risks that would arise if he suffered from a heady injury, but hid those risks from him. Essentially, his argument centered on the idea that the teams knew he was at a greater risk of ...
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NFL Concussion Litigation Settlement Results in a Flurry of Objections

The five-year NFL concussion litigation finally came to a conclusion when a settlement was reached, however, while the court has given final approvals regarding several objections and opening the registration for all class members, lingering issues still remain regarding the allocation of attorneys’ fees, as counsel for thousands of class members are scrambling to take their fair share. The concussion litigation settlement established a bottomless fund over a sixty-five year period to compensate a class of over 20,000 former NFL players. The deal offered payments ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million for conditions connected to traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Lead class attorneys on the case from Seeger Weiss LLP and Anapol Weiss filed a petition, in which they sought $112.5 million for compensation ...
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Former NIU Punter Appeals Validity of Transfer Rule to the Seventh Circuit

Peter Deppe, a former punter for Northern Illinois University (NIU), has filed a notice of appeal that challenges an Indiana Federal Court’s dismissal of his antitrust claim regarding the NCAA rule forcing student-athletes who transfer universities to sit out for a year before returning to play for the new school. As background, Deppe was originally recruited as a walk-on punter by NIU in 2014. Deppe’s complaint alleged that he was redshirted and told by the coaches that he would receive a scholarship and become the starting punter in 2015. However, Deppe’s scholarship never materialized, as the special teams coach switched universities. Deppe was given permission to seek a transfer. The University of Iowa told Deppe that it wanted him, but conditioned this offer on his ability to obtain eligibility for ...
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University of Richmond Student-Athletes Suspended for Wagering Reinstated

The University of Richmond announced that it will reinstate the five baseball players who were suspended this season for potential NCAA violations, as it now appears that the players wagered on sports games—not fantasy sports—as initially reported. NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from engaging in any “sports wagering activities or provid[ing] information to individuals involved or associated with any types of sports wagering activities.”  This may include “internet sports wagering” and pay-to-play “fantasy leagues.” Student-athletes found in violation of these rules are ineligible from playing time for at least one year from the date the violation occurred, or a minimum of one season, according to the NCAA Division I Handbook. In the present case, the University did not specify the exact wrongs allegedly committed by the players.  Simply, it said that ...
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Former NFL Agent Pleads Guilty to Bribing Former UNC Players

Former NFL agent, Terry Watson, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of athlete-agent inducement for providing nearly $24,000 in cash to former UNC and current NFL players Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, and Greg Little in 2010. Watson entered his plea deal on Monday, April 17, which concluded the more than three-year-old felony charges. The terms of his plea deal include 30 months of probation, a $5000 fine, and a suspended six to eight month jail sentence. A felony obstruction of justice charge for not providing records sought by authorities was dismissed as a part of the plea deal. Watson was one of five people who faced charges in the case. Watson’s plea deal came hours after his friend, Patrick Mitchell Jones, agreed to testify against him as part of a deferred-prosecution ...
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