$50M Settlement Approved in NFL Retirees’ Publicity Rights Suit

A Minnesota federal judge approved a $50 million settlement in a case over the publicity rights of more than 25,000 NFL retirees. Calling it a “historic settlement,” the judge stated it is “very creative and it’s very exciting to see this opportunity being provided to retired players for the first time.” Despite the objection of 19 players, on November 1, 2013, the judge granted final approval of the settlement. The judge noted that “only one-tenth of one percent of the class objected and less…
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Photographers Want to Capture Their Rights

Seven professional photographers sued the NFL, Getty Images (Getty), and the Associated Press (AP) for violating the photographers’ copyrights. The freelance photographers (plaintiffs) filed the lawsuit in New York federal court on October 21, 2013. The lawsuit claims that the three defendants are liable for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The plaintiffs allege that the NFL failed to receive consent to use plaintiffs’ photos in connection with NFL advertisements, news, promotions, and products. Freelance photographers regularly license their photos through…
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Did Concussion Lawsuits Deal a Fatal Blow to Helmet Manufacturer’s Deal with the NFL?

Riddell, Inc. was contractually granted the rights to be the official helmet supplier of the NFL in perpetuity in 1989, over 20 years ago.  However, on Thursday, October 24, 2013, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed that the NFL had negotiated to end its business relationship with the helmet manufacturer at the end of the 2013 NFL season. Riddell initially resisted the NFL’s withdrawal from their contractual relationship, but was ultimately unsuccessful in thwarting the NFL’s designs.  A statement made by Roger Goodell at a youth…
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Closing the California Workers’ Compensation Loophole: AB 1309 Awaits Governor’s Signature

In a previous article (“Stemming the California Workers’ Compensation ‘Gold Rush’: AB 1309”) we previously covered the California’s legislature’s attempt to crack down on “cumulative trauma” type injuries being filed by former sports players who have spent the majority of their careers playing for non-California based teams or who have played a handful of games in California for other teams.  Supporters of the bill have maintained that it will curtail attempts by athletes with little or no connection to the state of California…
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Eighth Circuit Retires Former Player’s Claims Against NFLPA

On September 23, 2013, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision that rejected NFL retirees’ claims against the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).  The retirees alleged that they were wrongfully excluded from settlement negotiations during the 2011 NFL lockout.  As a result, they claimed they lost out on at least $600 million in benefits. Two lawsuits were filed during the lockout.  One suit was brought by active players against the NFL and the other by retired players against the NFL and its teams.  Since…
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Former Steelers Player Loses Appeal for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania

On August 29, 2013, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled against former Pittsburgh Steelers player Ainsley T. Battles in a claim for workers’ compensation benefits based on a ruling that Battles’ injury did not result in a compensable loss of earnings. The Steelers signed Battles to a one-year contract in 2004-2005, however, his season unfortunately ended during Week One when claimant tore his left hamstring.  The team physician, Dr. James Bradley, performed surgery three days after the injury and Battles underwent a lengthy period of…
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Judge Orders NFL Retirees to Drop Two Cases

A U.S. District Judge in Minnesota dismissed two new cases relating to the publicity rights of NFL retirees.  On September 6, 2013, the judge said the cases were filed too early and violated the terms of an earlier order. The two cases arose out of unhappiness with a settlement in an earlier case.  In that case, ex-players alleged that the NFL wrongfully used their likenesses in marketing materials.  On April 8, 2013, a settlement was preliminarily approved for the dispute.  According to the settlement, a…
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NFL Settles for $765 Million in Concussion-Related Lawsuits

The National Football League has agreed to settle the massive class action litigation brought against it by more than 4,500 former football players who alleged that the league intentionally downplayed the risks of concussion-related head injuries and their long-term effects on cognitive decline. Former United States District Judge Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator, announced that the NFL will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL players. The settlement will also pay for medical and safety research, and cover litigation…
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More Former Players Sue NFL for Concussions

On Tuesday, August 13 eighty-three more National Football League (NFL) players sued the NFL regarding concussions related injuries. According to the Washington Times, Pro Bowl players Clinton Portis and Daunte Culpepper were among the players that filed suit. The complaint alleges that Portis suffers from headaches and is “at a heightened risk of developing further adverse neurological symptoms in the future.” Earlier this year, Portis stated that he suffered a number of concussions while playing.  He couldn’t give an exact number because there were…
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Stemming the California Workers’ Compensation “Gold Rush”: AB 1309

As the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider has detailed in a prior article, California remains a popular site for current or former professional athletes to file workers’ compensation claims with its relaxed rules on the filing of cumulative trauma-type claims.  However, this may be coming to an end shortly. As recently estimated by Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, 4,500 claims have been filed with up to another 5,000 claims pending, resulting in nearly $750 million in…
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