NHL’s Subpoena Requests Regarding CTE: Valid Production Request or Invasion of Privacy?

Beginning in September, 2015 the National Hockey League issued subpoenas to two doctors at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center (Boston CTE) in order to compel production of the center’s research related to the league’s concussion litigation. In October 2017, the NHL issued another subpoena, seeking information regarding Lazarus Zeidel — who was added as a named plaintiff in the concussion lawsuit against the league after being diagnosed with CTE in a post-mortem analysis of his brain. While the league argued that the request was made on a need for additional information regarding Zeidel, Boston CTE maintains that the request “goes far beyond that. . . and is asking for information and documental related to all aspects of the center’s work on the disease.” Further, the university alleged that “[i]n ...
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NHL’s Proffered Expert in Concussion Litigation Attacks Dr. Bennet Omalu’s CTE Findings; Omalu Says No Room for Debate

The controversial discourse around high-contact sports and their potential link to permanent brain damage in professional athletes is coming to a head again. This time, it comes after the director of the Center for Neuropathology at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Rudolph J. Castellani, told a federal court that neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu’s medical conclusions regarding the potential link were inaccurate. Dr. Omalu, notoriously known for his research and findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition often found in deceased football players, has been an instrumental advocate for the former NHL players who have filed a multidistrict suit against the NHL in Minnesota federal court by offering his medical research findings as evidence of the link between high contact sports and the disease. The ...
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Author Looks to Thaw Adverse Copyright Ruling Related to Disney’s Frozen

Muneefa Abdullah, a Kuwaiti children’s author, has appealed a District Court’s recent decision denying the author’s copyright suit against Disney, claiming that the District Court judge failed to see the substantial similarities between her 2007 story “The Snow Princess” and Disney’s megahit Frozen. Abdullah sued the entertainment company in 2015 for copyright infringement, alleging that Walt Disney Studios motion pictures and Frozen screenwriter Jennifer Lee stole plot points, characters, and themes from her story. Last month, Judge Wilson of the Central District of California, dismissed the suit finding no substantial similarities and noting both the film and Abdullah’s story “depict clear influences by and similarities to Hans Christian Andersen’s classic 1845 fairy tale, ‘The Snow Queen.’” Abdullah is now asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the District ...
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NFL Players Union Argues No Breach of Collective Bargaining Agreement on Player’s 10-Game Drug Suspension

Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles right tackle, was hit with a 10-game drug suspension last season for the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs. In response, Johnson filed suit last month against the NFL Players Association, arguing that the Union’s inactions caused his suspension. Specifically, Johnson sued the NFL and the Players Union for allegedly failing to follow the collective bargaining agreement and the collectively bargained NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances in punishing him with a 10-game suspension. After raising jurisdictional issues and determining that an Ohio federal court was an improper jurisdiction for the case, the NFLPA sought the dismissal of Johnson’s suit. In a dismissal bid, the Union stated that Johnson’s suspension was upheld during arbitration, as he admitted using banned performance-enhancing substances in violation of the league’s Performance ...
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Is a Football Player’s Concussion an Intentional Injury? Arena Football Says No, Moves for Dismissal of Player’s Concussion Lawsuit

Lorenzo Breland, a former player for Arena Football One LLC’s Tulsa Talons and New Orleans Voodoo, sued Arena Football for concussion-related injuries that he sustained during his time in the league. Throughout his four years playing for Arena Football, Breland suffered two alleged concussions, the first one in 2011 and the second one in 2014 — ending his career. Breland sued the league for fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. In response, Arena Football filed a motion for quick judgment, maintaining that Breland’s recovery was limited to the remedies available under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. Breland argued that Louisiana’s Workers’ Compensation Act did not limit his recovery because the league’s intentional acts contributed to his injuries. As support, Breland alleged that Arena Football failed to provide him with ...
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Professional Soccer Expansion in North Carolina

Soccer in North Carolina is growing. On December 6, 2016, the Carolina Railhawks, currently part of the North American Soccer League, rebranded to North Carolina FC and announced their plans to potentially move into MLS within 18 months. On January 31, 2017, North Carolina FC officially submitted their bid to join MLS. The Raleigh-Durham area is one of 10 finalist markets for MLS expansion. In order to facilitate a successful transition to MLS, Steve Malik, the owner of North Carolina FC, has been working on securing a location in the Triangle for a suitable stadium. Malik has indicated that he will fund the construction of the stadium, but will be seeking public support for infrastructure related to the stadium. It has been reported that the cost of a new 24,000 ...
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St. Louis Soccer Stadium Proposal Stays Alive but Faces Uphill Battle to Make Ballot

After it looked like the St. Louis soccer stadium proposal for an MLS franchise was dead, a last-ditch effort has revived the proposed legislation. On January 26, 2017, the MLS bill was voted down by the Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee 6-2. After the vote, the parties quickly negotiated to amend the bill and bout an hour later, the parties presented the amended bill. The new proposal was slightly different: The main change included an amount of $12.5-$17 million dollars in projected revenue be provided to the city’s general fund over a 30-year period. The amended bill passed with a 5-4 vote. Additionally, the committee passed Board Bill 227. Board Bill 227 is a proposal that would increase the city’s sales tax to fund a MetroLink expansion and various other ...
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Louisville Response to NCAA Allegations Attempts to Shield Pitino

On Wednesday, January 25, 2017, the University of Louisville released its response to the NCAA after receiving a Notice of Allegations that criticized Rick Pitino for failing to monitor his former assistant and director of basketball operations, Andrew McGee. In 2015, a tell-all book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” publicly accused McGee of paying for strippers to attend parties in the dorms of players and recruits from 2010-14. The book was written by Katina Powell, who claimed she was paid $10,000 to supply dancers during that time. In its response, Louisville claims that Pitino “exceeded the university’s expectations” in monitoring the basketball program. Although the school agreed with the NCAA that impermissible benefits occurred on 37 of the 40 alleged instances, it disagreed on the severity ...
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Illinois Senate Proposal to Limit Workers’ Compensation Benefits to 35 Years of Age

A recent Illinois legislative proposal in Senate Bill 12 threatens to reduce the ability of professional athletes in the state to collect long-term workers’ compensation benefits. Under Illinois law, permanently injured workers are able to collect workers’ compensation benefits until age 67. SB 12, which is part of an overall state budget package, contains a provision which would define a covered professional athlete as someone who plays for a professional sports team in Illinois and “derives the majority of his or incoming from playing athletics.” That class of employees would no longer be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits after the age of 35. National Football League Players Association lobbyist Joe Briggs in discussing the provision noted the glaring disparity in worker protection in discussing a hypothetical situation where a ...
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NHL Wants to Keep Wrongful Death Suit in the Federal Courts

On January 20, 2017, the NHL opposed sending the wrongful death suit of deceased hockey player Derek Boogaard back to state court. The lawsuit began in 2013, and was initially filed in Cook County, Illinois, but was removed by the NHL to the federal courts shortly after. Boogaard’s family alleges he developed a painkiller addiction and permanent brain damage from injuries sustained as an “enforcer” for the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. Boogaard died of a painkiller overdose in 2011, and was prescribed as much many as 150 pills in a 16 day period. The family of Boogaard has argued that part of their claims are state law claims, and that the case should be remanded to the state courts. The NHL has opposed their motion, and argued that ...
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