Family of Aaron Hernandez Hits NFL and Patriots with Lawsuit After CTE Diagnosis

On September 21, 2017, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, as guardian of Avielle Hernandez, who is four-years-old and Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots for their negligence that caused Aaron Hernandez to develop a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The lawsuit seeks damages for the loss of parental consortium, alleging that the NFL’s and the Patriots’ conduct cost Hernandez’s daughter his love and affection. In a civil cover sheet for the suit the damages demanded was $20 million. After Hernandez’s suicide in April, his brain was examined at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, which is renowned for its research on the disease, to determine whether he had CTE. The examination found that he had stage three out of four of CTE. ...
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Investigation into Deceptive Practices Around NFL Concussion Settlement Continues

Judge Anita Brody, who is overseeing a large NFL concussion settlement, told lawyers on Wednesday that they could look into whether companies are duping a few hundred former NFL players into signing contracts for unneeded services. Judge Brody had already sent out a notice in July to eligible players telling them she would hold a hearing concerning these deceptive practices in September, and, at the hearing on Tuesday, repeatedly asked plaintiffs’ lawyers how she could help. Judge Brody could potentially void any agreements found to be illegal. The New York Times published an article in July describing how the retired players, who could receive up to $5 million from the settlement, are being bombarded with solicitations from companies promising to help the retirees through the “difficult” claims process, while charging ...
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Former Player Objects to Class Counsel Fee Request in NCAA Deal

Despite a final approval on the settlement for the class of former football players’ suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for its handling of concussions, there is still a dispute over how much the class counsel should get for attorney fees. Class counsel requested $15 million for attorney fees, but a former college football player, Anthony Nichols, told the judge that the counsel should not get more than $8 million. Nichols based this number off of the fact that the initial settlement had to be altered twice before it was approved. The settlement agreement was preliminarily approved in July 2016 for $75 million. Of that settlement, $70 million would go toward a fund for medical monitoring to screen the current and former NCAA student-athletes involved in the suit ...
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Ice Cube’s Big3 Basketball League Counters Rival with Defamation Suit

On September 15, 2017, Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 professional basketball league, Big3 Basketball, filed its own lawsuit against rival league, Champions League Inc. for allegedly falsely telling investors that Big3 stole its players. Big3’s suit is in response to Champions League filing a lawsuit earlier in the month that claimed Big3 caused its failure to launch. Both companies are based on a similar business model of featuring retired NBA players. Champions League sued Big3 for $250 million in damages for breaching agreements that allowed players to play in both leagues. In its suit, Champions League claimed it had to postpone its season, which was set to start on August 23, because eight of the 10 starting players for the New York and Los Angeles rosters were blocked by Big3. Champions League ...
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Reebok CCM Contests Sanction Fees from Startup Hockey-Helmet Design Company

In September of 2015, Hefter Impact Technologies LLC filed suit against Reebok-CCM Hockey alleging that Reebok contractually owed royalties on CCM helmets that were derivative of Hefter designs. Hefter is a startup hockey-helmet design company, and it asserts that it has an existing royalty agreement after CCM used Hefter’s outer shell design on a popular hockey helmet. Hefter now alleges that CCM owes it royalties on later helmet models that are also based on its outer shell design. These helmets are so popular that they are worn by a third of all NHL players. In January of 2017, Hefter brought a sanctions motion arguing that CCM employees disregarded a litigation memo hold and destroyed emails, attachments, and contents of a product manager’s laptop computer with hard copy files. In August, ...
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Tattoo Copyright Holder Argues Video Game Depiction is Not Fair Use

On September 12, 2017, Solid Oak Sketches LLC opposed game maker Take-Two Interactive’s, motion for judgment in its favor in suit over video game NBA 2K’s depiction of players’ tattoos. Solid Oak purchased the copyrights from tattoo artists for several basketball stars. Solid Oak filed suit last year alleging the infringement of its copyrights for eight different designs that were etched on LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and others. Along with the suit, Solid Oak offered to let Take-Two use the tattoos in the game for the year in exchange for $819,000, or perpetually for $1.14 million. In August, Take-Two requested the court to throw out the case, claiming that its use of the tattoos in the game was protected by the fair use doctrine or was too trivial to litigate. ...
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Former NHL Enforcer Michael Peluso Goes After His Old Teams for Millions in Head Injury Suit

Back in April, Michael Peluso, former NHL “enforcer,” filed suit against the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, and the team’s insurance companies for intentionally hiding the dangers he faced from continued head injuries arguing that his claims fall outside of workers’ compensation. He argues that a newly discovered medical report shows that the teams knew of the risks of further head injuries, but kept putting him back on the ice. Peluso specifically alleges that the teams serious breaches of legal duties led to him suffering through nine grand mal seizures, early onset dementia, and severe neurological and psychological impairment. His complaint states that he has already spent more than $100,000 on medical bills and speculates his medical care will exceed $10 million over the course of his lifetime. He ...
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Ezekiel Elliott Will Stay on the Field for Now

U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant ruled on Monday, September 18, 2017, that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension will remain on hold, allowing Elliot to continue to play. Judge Mazzant, the same judge who originally granted the preliminary injunction freezing the suspension, has held the injunction will remain in place because the “NFL deprived the NFLPA the right to present…any evidence relevant to the [arbitration] hearing.” Mazzant wrote that “the court still has a role to play in reviewing arbitral awards coming from labor disputes to ensure employees get a fundamentally fair hearing.” Elliot’s accuser did not testify at the arbitration hearing, but an NFL investigator had determined her domestic violence allegations were not credible. Mazzant took issue with how it appeared that the NFL tried to suppress ...
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Ninth Circuit Refuses Reconsideration of NCAA No-Felons Rule

On September 11, 2017, the Ninth Circuit refused to reconsider its ruling that the NCAA could continue its policy excluding convicted felons from coaching in NCAA youth basketball tournaments. The denial of reconsideration stems from a lawsuit brought by Dominic Hardie, a youth basketball coach, who had a drug-related felony from 2001. Hardie sued the NCAA in February 2013 claiming that the NCAA had abandoned a policy that forgave nonviolent felonies after seven years. According to Hardie’s brief, African-Americans are more than three times as likely as white Americans to have felony convictions. The current NCAA policy bars felons from coaching in sanctioned tournaments, which Hardie claimed was intended to discriminate against African-American coaches in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Hardie also claimed the ...
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NFL Players’ Counsel Demand Answers from Attorney in Concussion Suit for Alleged Misrepresentations

On September 12, 2017, class counsel for former NFL players in the concussion suit against the NFL stated that an attorney made communications about the settlement program to class members that may have resulted in them taking action against their self-interest. The suit against the NFL for negligently handling the relationship between Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and repeated head trauma sustained by the former players’ profession resulted in a settlement that was approved in April 2015. The settlement could result in paying out more than $1 billion from the bottomless fund over 65 years. An anonymous class member, referred to as John Doe, contacted the class counsel in August and sent them documents concerning the misrepresentations. Doe had retained attorney Tim Howard of Howard & Associates to represent him in ...
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