Football Coach Immune from Brain Injury Suit, Yet Ruling May Give Hope to Future Players

Sheldon Mann, a high school football player who suffered a traumatic brain injury after a concussion during practice, will not be able to sue his coach or the school district. The Third Circuit affirmed Coach Christopher Walkowiak’s grant of immunity from a lawsuit that Mann’s parents filed in 2014. The appeals judge noted there was considerable dispute around what happened, and whether the coach knew Mann was injured when he allowed him to keep practicing. The head football coach of Palmerton Area School District claimed…
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NCAA to Review Instant Replay, Targeting Rules in Football

The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced on Thursday, February 4, 2016, that it intends to review certain rules to increase and promote football safety next season. The proposed rule changed will be analyzed by the NCAA Football Rules Committee during its upcoming meeting, scheduled for February 9-11. According to the NCAA, the committee will primarily be concerned with discussing potential rule changes to promote the improvement of health and safety in the sport of football – a wise stance to take as the wave of…
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Parents of New York High School Football Player File Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The parents of a Staten Island high school football player who died of a heart attack after collapsing at a pre-season workout in September 2014 recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York, the Department of Education, the Fire Department, and the Emergency Medical Services Bureau. According to reports, the 6 foot 2 inch, 295 pound player collapsed after doing wind sprints when the temperature was 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity. The heart attack was reportedly caused by a…
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Recent Poll: Half of Americans Don’t Want Their Son to Play Football

Despite football’s popularity as a spectator sport, according to a recent Bloomberg Poll, half of American’s don’t want their son’s playing the game.  Those statistics are even gloomier among the educated; sixty-two percent of college-educated survey respondents said they wouldn’t want their son to play. Many suggest this decline is attributable to the attention on the negative health impacts of the sport.  Concussions have been a large stumbling block for the NFL.  A vast number of former players have alleged they suffer long-term effects…
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Ex-NFL Linebacker’s Workers’ Compensation Claim Proceeds On Basis of Two Games Played in California

As an example of the type of claim likely meant to be curtailed by AB 1309 (previously discussed here), the claim of a former Carolina Panthers/Cleveland Browns linebacker continues to process its way through the California workers’ compensation system. In his claim, ex-NFL linebacker Tarek Saleh alleged that he sustained multiple injuries while employed as a football player for the Carolina Panthers between May 1997-February 1999 and for the Cleveland Browns from February 1999-January 2002. When Saleh was traded to the Browns,…
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Riddell Attempts to Rid Self of Consumer Concussion Suit

On Friday, August 1, Riddell and other football helmet producers filed a motion to dismiss in the District of New Jersey, in an attempt to end a consumer concussion class-action suit waged against them.  This suit is just one of many attacking Riddell’s marketing of its “Revolution” line of football helmets. Riddell filed its motion, seeking to dismiss the complaint as it fails to state a claim and lacks the statutorily required specificity for this type of action.  They argue that the complaint is missing…
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NFL Hurting From New Suit by Former Players Over Painkillers

The NFL’s litigation woes continue.  On May 20, 2014, the league was hit with a lawsuit brought by a group of retired former players claiming that the NFL illegally supplied them with narcotics and other painkillers to mask their injuries and keep them on the playing field, intentionally ignoring the risks these drugs had on the players’ long-term health.  The filing insists that the actions by team doctors and trainers were illegal because team medical personnel never obtained prescriptions, failed to keep drug records, and…
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To Unionize, or Not to Unionize? Northwestern Football Players Cast Historic Vote Following Controversial NLRB Ruling

On April 25, Northwestern University’s scholarship football players voted on whether to form the first union for college athletes. This came on the heels of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that the university’s scholarship football players were employees, and that they (as workers) had the right to form a union and were entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  The NLRB agreed with the players on almost every point made at last month’s hearing, including acknowledging that athletes spend well in excess of the weekly…
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NFL Sacked Again in American Needle Case – May Head to Trial in Antitrust Dispute

In 2010, the Supreme Court declared that the National Football League’s practice of league-wide licensing deals was not immune from antitrust scrutiny under Section One of the Sherman Act.  On remand, a recent order by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case and set the stage for a trial. The American Needle company, an entity that had acted as a vendor for the NFL for 20 years, initially sued the league, 30 of its…
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Merriman Lawsuit May Be “Lights Out” for Nike

Former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman is suing apparel giant Nike. Merriman’s company, Lights Out Holdings LLC, filed suit in California claiming that Nike infringed his trademark in “Lights Out” after Nikeintroduced a “Lights Out” line of merchandise. Merriman earned the “Lights Out” nickname in high school when he knocked out four opposing players in one game. Merriam secured a federal trademark in “Lights Out.” It has been used in several off-field ventures and is largely associated with Merriman’s persona. According to the suit, although Nike…
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