Judges’ Panel Creates New Multi-District Litigation for NCAA Concussion Cases

A panel of federal judges recently ruled that ten class-action lawsuits brought against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) will be consolidated into a single multi-district litigation in Chicago.  In essence, each suit alleges that the NCAA intentionally concealed the long term-risks of concussions sustained by student athletes in a variety of college sports.  The consolidation follows in the wake of the recent $765 million settlement of the NFL’s concussion litigation, a nearly identical action brought against the league by over 4,500 former NFL alumni.…
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Free Beer + 2,500 Fans = Liability Concerns for Louisville University

Picture this: 2,500 fans rushing into a college basketball game bearing free beer vouchers. What could possibly go wrong? If you ask Louisville Cardinals’ Women’s Basketball head coach Jeff Walz, nothing at all. After all, Walz’s idea for boosting attendance at the WNIT semifinals game against LSU — provide free beer for fans, and they will come — worked, bringing more than 8,000 attendees to witness an 88-67 victory. To pull it off, the coach emptied his wallet and dropped $5,000 to buy the…
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The Anti-Trust Suit Isn’t Over Yet for the NCAA

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken moved the Ed O’Bannon anti-trust lawsuit forward against the NCAA. On November 8, 2013, Judge Wilken certified a class of former and current college athletes suing the NCAA. The suit began in 2009, when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA for wrongfully profiting off the names and likeness of former student athletes in EA Sports video games. The judge ruled that players can seek a verdict forcing the NCAA and its member-schools to end restrictions on…
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Judge Allows NCAA Athletes’ Antitrust Claims to Proceed

A U.S. District Judge in California, Claudia Wilken, rejected all of the NCAA’s arguments to dismiss antitrust claims against it in connection with the use of student athletes’ names and likenesses.  According to the athletes, the NCAA and others are making huge profits by selling rights that should belong to the players.  On October 25, 2013, Wilken ruled that those claims could proceed to the next stage of litigation. The athletes contend that antitrust laws are applicable because they are forced to give up their…
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Ryan Hart Did Not Consent to $40 Million EA Settlement

Ryan Hart, a former Rutgers quarterback, told the New Jersey federal court that he was “completely uninformed” about negotiations and a settlement impacting his case against Electronic Arts (EA).  In his October 21, 2013 filing, Hart did not object to the settlement, but he opposed an action to replace him as the named plaintiff. The $40 million settlement, announced last month, will remove EA and the Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC) from Hart’s case and two others if approved.  Hart’s case was filed…
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NCAA Will Try Mediation to “Soften the Blow” of Second Concussion Case

The NCAA has agreed to mediate another concussion case pending against it, according to an October 18, 2013 filing. Last month, Chris Walker filed the case against the NCAA contending that the organization failed to protect student-athletes from concussions.  Walker, a former defensive end for the University of Tennessee, is seeking class action status for all former NCAA football players.  The parties agreed to mediation of the claims.  Retired U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips will over see the mediation set to take place on February…
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Reversal of Penn State Penalties May Lead to End of Miami Investigation

That the NCAA investigation of the University of Miami has dragged on beyond any reasonable timeframe is beyond dispute.  Students who entered the school as freshmen when the investigation began are seniors now, with no formal findings having been issued by the NCAA.  The Penn State investigation took less time.  The investigation and trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg took less time.  And yet, there is no sign that the NCAA will be making formal findings anytime soon. However, the Palm Beach Post’s Greg Stoda
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NCAA and Riddell Hit Head On With Concussion Case

Two former college football players “hit” the NCAA with another concussion case.  This comes just one week after it agreed to mediate concussion claims in another pending case.  All told, the NCAA now has three potential class action suits pending against it regarding concussion claims. Former Washington and Oregon quarterback, John DuRocher, and former Washington safety, Darin Harris, filed the suit in an Indiana federal court.  They are seeking over $5 million in damages for the repeated head injuries they sustained while playing.  According to…
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NCAA Agrees to Mediate Concussion Claims

Former federal judge Layn Phillips is heading back to mediation with parties over concussion claims.  This time he will preside over claims by former college football players against the NCAA. The suit was filed two years ago by former Eastern Illinois player Adrian Arrington and three others.  Arrington, now 27, suffers from seizures that he alleges are a product of repeated head trauma suffered while playing as a defensive back.  The players, who are seeking class action status, are asking for unspecified money damages, long…
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NCAA to Gradually Restore Penn State’s Football Scholarships

The NCAA announced this week that it will reduce the unprecedented sanctions against Penn State’s football program by gradually restoring scholarships starting next season. Modifications to other sanctions, such as reducing the four-year postseason ban, may be on the horizon but were not announced. We all remember when the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky were splashed on the front pages of newspapers, and when the case involving the notorious former Penn State assistant coach was the focus of every news channel for months. After Sandusky…
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