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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Former Track & Field Athletes Petition for En Banc Review in the Face of Latest Defeat in Student-Athlete Employment Fight

Two former NCAA track and field athletes are petitioning the Seventh Circuit to overrule itself, in one of the highest profile student-athlete lawsuits since the Ed O’Bannon litigation. Plaintiffs Gillian Berger and Taylor Hennig competed for the University of Pennsylvania, and argue that the hours spent training and competing for their school violated the wage-and-hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The defendants, which include the NCAA, won a motion to dismiss the case this past February. That order was upheld by the Seventh Circuit on Monday, December 5, 2016, when a three-judge panel determined that the plaintiffs were not “working” for an “employer” as that term is used within the FLSA. The plaintiffs asked the court to use the multi-factor test outlined in Glatt v. Searchlight Pictures, ...
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Family of Derek Boogaard Asks Federal Judge to Remove Tort Claims to State Court

The parents of former NHL player Derek “Boogeyman” Boogaard are asking a Federal District Court judge to remove their wrongful death claims — against the NHL — to state court. Their request comes on the heels of a ruling striking all claims involving federal law, and, Boogaard’s parents opine, the only allegations left to decide involve state tort law claims. Filed in 2013, the suit focused on the NHL’s failure to protect Boogaard and permitted him to return to action without completing recovery for his opioid addiction. Boogaard was known as an “enforcer” in the league — a player who protects other, more skilled players, when they are targeted by another team’s “enforcers.” In his brief NHL career, Boogaard played for the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers. His playing ...
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No Repeal of North Carolina HB2

As discussed earlier this week, the North Carolina General Assembly convened for a special session on December 21 to reconsider and possibly repeal HB2. In a prior statement, Governor-elect Roy Cooper opined that a complete repeal of the bill “will help to bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.” However, following political posturing by proponents and opponents of the bill, the parties were unable to come to mutually agreeable terms regarding a repeal. Based on earlier estimates, the state has lost over 500 million in lost revenue from cancelled sports and entertainment events as well as business development; for reference, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce North Carolina’s gross domestic product exceeded 500 billion in 2015. It ...
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Packers’ Defensive Lineman Drops Suit Flagging NFL, NFLPA for ‘Illegal Formation’

A Green Bay Packers defensive lineman has dropped a lawsuit against the NFL and NFL Players Association on Monday, December 19, 2016. Mike Pennel, the third-year nose tackle from CSU-Pueblo, was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Pennel intended to appeal the league’s finding, contained in a November 8 letter, at a hearing set for December 6. Before that hearing took place, however, Pennel filed suit in the Federal Northern District Court of Ohio on November 29. The substance of Pennel’s argument focused not on the facts of his alleged violation, but, rather, on the process the NFL attempted to provide Pennel for hearing his appeal. According to the complaint, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to provide at least three, but no more than five, hearing officers for ...
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“UConn’t do that!” Ex-Soccer Player Suing University for Revoking Athletic Scholarship

In a bizarre lawsuit, a former soccer player from the University of Connecticut (UConn) is filing suit against her alma mater for taking her athletic scholarship away, but not for the reason you might think. It all started in 2014 after the UConn women’s soccer team won the American Athletic Conference title game. In a moment of jubilation, then-freshman Noriana Radwan hugged a teammate and then looked to the television camera directly in front of her, and proudly “flipped the bird,” likely without any idea of the consequences that would follow. The initial publicity storm was massive. Once word of Radwan’s actions got around, women’s soccer head coach Len Tsantiris suspended her from participating in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Radwan wrote the university a letter apologizing for her actions, but ...
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Impact Of North Carolina’s Likely Repeal Of HB2

As previously discussed on this blog, North Carolina has seen a variety of sports, entertainment, and business organizations voice their disapproval of House Bill 2, otherwise known as the bathroom bill. Since it was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, HB2’s financial impact has rippled across North Carolina. In July, the NBA elected to relocate its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte as a result of the much debated bill. In September, the ACC announced that all neutral-site conference championship games planned to take place in North Carolina would be relocated. Although the PGA of America decided to allowed the 2017 PGA Championship to remain in North Carolina, it denounced HB2 in a written statement and shared its hopes that the law would be changed. These are just examples of ...
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Ohio Takes a Closer Look at Accrual of Injury in Concussion Case

The long-lasting nature of a concussion injury may be a way around the statute of limitation problems for athletes bringing concussion suits. The Ohio Court of Appeals, which revived a former Notre Dame football player’s case against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), recently reasoned that there was nothing about the player’s condition prior to diagnosis (within the statute of limitations) that would have alerted him that his injury was the result of the NCAA alleged tortious conduct. Steven Schmitz, who passed away due to his injuries in 2015, brought suit against the NCAA alleging brain injuries including severe memory loss, cognitive decline, early onset Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic encephalopathy and dementia. Schmitz alleged that his injuries were caused by the negligence of Notre Dame and the NCAA during the time ...
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Supreme Court Blocks Appeals Over NFL Concussion Settlement

On December 12, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will not hear the appeals concerning the concussion-related settlement between the National Football League and more than 20,000 former players. This class-action originated when former NFL players accused the NFL of hiding its true knowledge of the link between football and the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Upon reaching a settlement, however, a group of dissenting retirees argued that it “unfairly favored currently injured retirees and left thousands of former players who have not yet been diagnosed with neurological diseases without any recourse.” With the final challenges coming to a close, payouts can begin. Per the settlement, these former players could receive up to $5 million each in the case of severe brain trauma. ...
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Michael Jordan Wins Trademark Case in China

In what is being hailed as a landmark decision, China’s highest court recently ruled in favor of Michael Jordan, holding that he owns the legal rights to the Chinese characters of the equivalent of his name. Jordan sued Qiaodan Sports Company, alleging that it built a brand by putting the Mandarin transliteration of his name on its sportswear. Jordan never gave permission for this use of his name and he has no connection with Qiaodan Sports. The high court overturned the lower courts, which had held that Quiaodan Sports could use Jordan’s name to sell goods. For foreigners, the Chinese legal system has generally been a very difficult venue in which to prevail. Numerous companies, including New Balance, Apple, and Starbucks, have been involved in lengthy litigation over the right ...
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