Former NFL Player Asks Court to Send Texas Turf Injury Suit Back to State Court

Former Texas Houston linebacker Demeco Ryans has sued his former team for over $10 million in compensation for a no-contact, career-ending injury he sustained in 2014 while playing at NRG stadium. Ryans alleges the injury was a result of the field’s poor condition, and that the Houston Texans breached their duty to provide NFL players with a safe playing surface. The lawsuit also cites numerous complaints by other NFL players re the playing surface at NRG Stadium, which effectively put NRG on notice of the poor conditions and injuries. Ryans suffered a career-ending Achilles tendon injury he contributed to the “seams” in the playing surface. His claim focused on the fact that “but for” the stadium field, there is a reasonable probability that he would have continued playing in the ...
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As March Madness Looms, NCAA Opens Another Violation Investigation into UNC Academic Practices

Just when the University of North Carolina thought it was past the rounds of sanctions centering on academic integrity issues, the NCAA filed a third “Notice of Allegations” as 2016 came to a close. In the most recent notice, the NCAA alleged that the university provided improper extra benefits to student-athletes so that they could remain eligible for athletic competition. The notice goes on to allege that members of the men’s basketball and football programs received improper benefits, restoring a reference to the university’s premier athletic programs that had previously been stricken from earlier NCAA notices of allegations. This is another notch in a long string of alleged NCAA violations that began in May 2015. One of the NCAA notices detailed how professors would compose writing assignments for student-athletes, and ...
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NFL Retirement Plan Asks Fourth Circuit to Deny Benefits to Player Disabled by Symptoms of CTE

Issues from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) have started to seep into other parts of retired NFL players’ lives. Attorneys for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan recently asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a Maryland District Court’s order granting retired NFL linebacker Jesse Solomon disability benefits. The District Court ruled in favor for Solomon after finding that the Social Security Administration determined that Solomon had been disabled within a fifteen year window. In order to receive disability coverage, a player must show evidence that a disability manifested itself within that time period. Solomon played in the NFL for nine seasons after being drafted in the twelfth round of the 1986 NFL draft, playing with the Vikings, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Falcons, and Dolphins, where he finished his ...
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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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