“Bizarre Dispute” Between Soccer Gear Company and Nike Ends at the Ninth Circuit

On June 7, 2018, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, a Ninth Circuit judge, denied Havensight Capital LLC’s appeal. In September 2014, Havensight Capital LLC, a soccer gear company and competitor of Nike, Inc., filed a lawsuit against Nike, claiming intentional interference with prospective economic relations; unfair competition and trade practices; commercial misappropriation; intentional interference with contractual relations; negligence; and invasion of privacy. According to Judge Rawlinson, the “appeal is the latest in an ongoing and bizarre dispute” where Havensight has portrayed its lawsuit as a battle between …

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NCAA Argues $42 Million Award is Unjustified

On February 15, 2018, an attorney representing the NCAA urged a panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit to reject a $42 million attorney’s fee award for attorneys representing student-athletes. Back in 2009, a class of players, led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, sued the NCAA claiming that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by wrongfully profiting off the likenesses of student-athletes and not offering scholarships at the full cost of attending the university. In 2015, the class of players won their suit; however, …

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Former USC Linebacker Attempts to Revive NCAA Suit

A former University of Southern California linebacker, Lamar Dawson, again tried to convince the Ninth Circuit to revive his class action suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12). As we have previously covered, Dawson began the class-action lawsuit in September 2016 alleging the NCAA and Pac-12 violated California law and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not paying college football players a minimum wage or overtime. “The reality of the relationship between the students and the universities …

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Retired NFL Player’s Suit Against Madden Games Maker Continues

On December 11, 2017, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg refused Electronic Arts Inc.’s (EA) request to be dismissed from a retired NFL player’s putative class action. The suit alleged that EA improperly used the retired players’ likenesses in Madden video games. The putative class action was filed in 2010 and claimed EA violated their publicity rights by including their likenesses in Madden games without obtaining permission from 2001 to 2009. Although the retired players’ names do not appear in the game, the players claim their …

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MLB Fans Swing ‘n Miss on Safety Netting Suit in Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Gail Payne and Stephanie Smith lack standing to seek an order requiring more safety netting and other protective measures at all Major League Baseball ballparks, pointing to the League’s evidence indicating that the risk of injury is very slim. The Ninth Circuit refused to reinstate the lawsuit, affirming U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling in November 2016 that tossed out the suit. Judge Rogers had agreed that injuries to baseball spectators, especially children, are more severe …

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NCAA, Pac-12 Want Ninth Circuit on their Side in Student-Athlete Wage Suit

The NCAA and the Pac-12 filed a brief asking the Ninth Circuit to uphold the dismissal of a wage action brought by a former USC football player, arguing that not paying student-athletes is precisely what makes them amateurs. “FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] football players are not Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Employees because amateurism — a system in which compensation is explicitly prohibited — ‘defines the economic reality’ of their activity.” The brief further argued the state law claims failed because California defines the players …

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Washington School District Urges Ninth Circuit to Uphold its Suspension of Football Coach for Praying on Fifty-Yard Line

On October 13, 2017 Bremerton School District, a Washington state district, urged the Ninth Circuit to maintain its ruling that the school had the right to stop a football coach from praying on the field after games, hitting back at claims that the ruling was in opposition of the First Amendment.

In August, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction by the school’s former football coach Joseph Kennedy, who accused the school of violating his First Amendment rights by prohibiting him from …

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Golf Caddies Ask for Mulligan in Suit Over PGA Tour Bib-Ads

On October 12, 2017, golf caddies urged the Ninth Circuit to revive their proposed antitrust class action against PGA Tour Inc. for allegedly exploiting them as walking advertisements. The golf caddies claimed the lower court erred by using evidence outside of their complaint to interpret the contracts and that they had no chance to respond to the court’s arguments.

In their original lawsuit filed by over 80 caddies in February 2015, the caddies alleged that PGA Tour earns $50 million a year from a policy …

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On Appeal, Former USC Linebacker Tackles Judge’s Ruling with Misapplication of Law Claims

In September 2016, Lamar Dawson, a former USC linebacker, filed a class-action suit against both the NCAA and Pac-12 Conference alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and California Labor Law. Dawson claimed the NCAA and Pac-12 failed to pay athletes minimum wage, failed to pay overtime, and failed to make timely compensation to athletes. He argued that he, among other student athletes, were without a doubt employees.

The NCAA and Pac-12 moved to dismiss the suit in January 2017, and in April, Judge …

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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 …

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