Minnesota Judge Orders Awarded Damages in NFL Publicity Case to Remain in Escrow
On April 12, 2016, a Minnesota federal judge ordered $150,000 in payments awarded be kept in escrow in response to a request made by NFL players’ attorneys that the fees awarded to certain law firms be withheld, due to a “loan squabble.”
In 2010, professional football player John Frederick Dryer filed a putative class action against the National Football League. His main argument claimed that NFL films violated professional football players’ publicity rights and rights under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125. Out of the nearly 25,000 players involved in the lawsuit, most resolved their differences with the NFL in a $42 million settlement. In 2015, the Eight Circuit Court approved the $42 million settlement, finding that the lower court did not abuse its discretion.
The settlement established a “common good fund” for the benefit of all former professional football players, as well as a licensing agency to assist those players in exploiting their publicity rights. The licensing agency was set up to market retired players’ publicity rights in conjunction with the NFL, making it easier for retired players to work with potential sponsors and advertisers.