Student Athletes Appeal Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit Against NCAA, Electronic Arts

A new development emerged Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in the case against Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) as two plaintiffs are appealing the approval of a $60 million settlement. The case—a class action lawsuit brought by student athletes—involves the use of students’ names, images, and likeness in EA’s NCAA video game series.

The class action has two underlying lawsuits: Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc. et al and O’Bannon, Jr. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association et al. A $40 million settlement was reached between EA and both plaintiffs in 2013, and a $20 million settlement was reached between the NCAA and the Keller plaintiffs in June. Steve Berman, lawyer for the Keller plaintiffs, stated “[t]his landmark decision marks the first time student-athletes will be paid for the likeness or image, and stands as a huge victory in the ongoing fight for student-athletes’ rights.”

Despite the payout, two student athletes—Nathan Harris and Darrin Duncan—appealed the approval of the settlement on Wednesday. Harris and Duncan previously objected to the attorneys’ fee award, arguing that the attorneys are after a double recovery from both the $40 million EA settlement and the $20 million NCAA settlement. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken disagreed, stating that the fees sought are based on the attorneys’ efforts to obtain both settlements. Harris and Duncan will look to the Ninth Circuit to have the settlement approval reversed.


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