Articles Posted in Entertainment & Sports Law

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In 2011, former professional football players sued the NFL and Riddell, Inc., claiming that the NFL failed to take reasonable actions to protect them from the chronic risks of head injuries in football, and that Riddell, an equipment manufacturer, should be liable for the defective design of helmets. In 2012, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the cases in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which, in 2014, approved a class action settlement that covered over 20,000 retired players and released all concussion-related claims against the NFL. There were 202 opt-outs. Objectors argued that class certification was improper and that the settlement was unfair. The Third Circuit affirmed, stating: “This settlement will provide nearly $1 billion in value to the class of retired players. It is a testament to the players, researchers, and advocates who have worked to expose the true human costs of a sport so many love. Though not perfect, it is fair.” View "In re: NFL Players Concussion Injury Litig." on Justia Law

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Singer-songwriters John Whitehead and Gene McFadden were “an integral part of the 1970s Philadelphia music scene. In 2002, Pullman approached them about purchasing their song catalogue. The parties signed a contract but never finalized the sale. Pullman claims he discovered tax liens while conducting due diligence and that the matter was never resolved. Whitehead and McFadden passed away in 2004 and 2006, respectively. Pullman became embroiled in disputes with their estates over ownership of the song catalogue. The parties eventually agreed to arbitration. Pullman, unhappy with the ruling, unsuccessfully moved to vacate the arbitration award on the ground that the panel had committed legal errors that made it impossible for him to present a winning case by applying the Dead Man’s Statute, which disqualifies parties interested in litigation from testifying about personal transactions or communications with deceased or mentally ill persons.” The Third Circuit affirmed, stating that the arbitrators did not misapply the law, but that legal error alone is not a sufficient basis to vacate the results of an arbitration in any case. View "Whitehead v. Pullman Group LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ticket Law, N.J. Stat. 56:8-35.1, part of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, says: It shall be an unlawful practice for a person, who has access to tickets to an event prior to the tickets’ release for sale to the general public, to withhold those tickets from sale to the general public in an amount exceeding 5% of all available seating for the event. The Consumer Fraud Act permits private plaintiffs to sue any person who violates the Act and causes them to suffer ascertainable damages. Plaintiffs wanted to attend Super Bowl XLVIII, which was held in New Jersey in 2014. One plaintiff bought two tickets on the resale market, allegedly for much more than face price. They assert that the NFL’s method of selling tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII violated the Ticket Law and resulted in unjust enrichment. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal. Neither plaintiff has constitutional standing to bring this case. Otherwise, anyone who purchased a Super Bowl ticket on the resale market would have standing to sue in federal court based on nothing more than conjectural assertions of causation and injury. Article III requires more. The court declined to interpret the Ticket Law’s meaning. View "Finkelman v. Nat'l Football League" on Justia Law

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The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. 3701, provides: It shall be unlawful for a governmental entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize or for a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote, pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity, a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games. PASPA exempts state-sponsored sports wagering in Nevada and sports lotteries in Oregon and Delaware, and had an exception for New Jersey if New Jersey were to enact a sports gambling scheme within one year of PASPA’s enactment. New Jersey did not do so. After voters approved a sports-wagering constitutional amendment, New Jersey enacted the Sports Wagering Act in 2012, providing for sports wagering at casinos and racetracks, under a comprehensive regulatory scheme. Sports leagues sued to enjoin the 2012 Law.The district court held that PASPA was constitutional and enjoined implementation of the 2012 Law. The Third Circuit affirmed. PASPA, by its terms, prohibits states from authorizing by law sports gambling, and the 2014 Law does exactly that. View "Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of N.J." on Justia Law

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Thousands of retired professional football players sued the National Football League and other defendants alleging primarily that the defendants failed to take reasonable actions to protect players from the risks associated with concussive and sub-concussive head injuries. The cases were consolidated and the district court “preliminarily approved” a proposed class-action settlement agreement and “conditionally certified for settlement purposes only” the settlement class and subclasses. Seven retired professional football players who object to the proposed settlement agreement and class certification, filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f) petition for permission to appeal. The Third Circuit dismissed finding that the order was not an “order granting or denying class-action certification” under the plain text of the rule permitting interlocutory review. View "In re: NFL Players Concussion Injury Litigation" on Justia Law

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VICI, a sports car racing team, sought T-Mobile’s sponsorship for the 2009-2011 Le Mans racing seasons. The companies entered into an agreement that required VICI to field one T-Mobile-sponsored racecar during the 2009 season and two during each of the 2010 and 2011 seasons and required VICI to display T- Mobile’s logo. The agreement provides that “VICI grants to [T-Mobile] the right to be the exclusive wireless carrier supplying wireless connectivity for the Porsche, Audi and VW telematics programs.” The Agreement had a force majeure clause, a severability clause, and a “Limitation of Liabilities.” VICI worked with T-Mobile to secure telematics business from VW, Audi, and Porsche. In July 2009, T-Mobile’s sponsored racecar sustained damage from an accident and was not able to race while undergoing repairs. On January 5, 2010, VICI sent a notice of default, indicating that T-Mobile had failed to pay $7 million due under the agreement. On January 7, T-Mobile sent a letter terminating the Agreement, stating that VICI made a material representation that VICI had authority to bind Audi, VW and that VICI failed, without justification or notice, to race at a key event where T-Mobile hosted business guests. The district court awarded VICI $7 million in damages. The Third Circuit affirmed the award of $7, but vacated with regard to VICI’s damages resulting from T- Mobile’s failure to make the 2011 payment. On remand, the court should consider an award of attorney’s fees to VICI in light of its reassessment of the 2011 damages issue. View "VICI Racing LLC v. T-Mobile USA Inc." on Justia Law

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Seeking to address illegal sports wagering and to improve its economy, New Jersey sought to license gambling on rofessional and amateur sporting events. Sports leagues sought to block those efforts, claiming, with the United States intervening, that the proposed law violates the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), 28 U.S.C. 3701, which prohibits most states from licensing sports gambling. New Jersey argued that the leagues lacked standing because they suffer no injury from legalization of wagering on their games and that PASPA was beyond Congress’ Commerce Clause powers. The state claimed that PASPA violates principles under the system of dual state and federal sovereignty: the “anti-commandeering” doctrine, on the ground that PASPA impermissibly prohibits states from enacting legislation to license sports gambling; and the “equal sovereignty” principle, in that PASPA permits Nevada to license sports gambling while banning other states from doing so. The district court enjoined New Jersey from licensing sports betting. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding that the leagues have Article III standing to enforce PASPA and that PASPA is constitutional. The court noted that accepting New Jersey’s arguments would require extraordinary steps, including invalidating a law under the anti-commandeering principle (the Supreme Court has only twice done so) and expanding that principle to suspend commonplace operations of the Supremacy Clause over state activity contrary to federal laws. View "Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Governor of NJ" on Justia Law

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Hart was a quarterback, player number 13, with the Rutgers University NCAA Men’s Division I Football team, 2002 through 2005, and was required to adhere to the NCAA amateurism rules. These rules state that a collegiate athlete loses his or her “amateur” status if the athlete uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport or accepts any remuneration or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind. Hart was very successful and was included in EA’s successful NCAA Football videogame franchise. In the game NCAA Football 2006, for example, Rutgers’ quarterback, player number 13, is 6’2” tall, weighs 197 pounds and resembles Hart; it shares his home town, team, and class year. Hart sued EA, alleging violation of his right of publicity by appropriating his likeness for use in the NCAA Football series of videogames. The district court dismissed on First Amendment grounds. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the games did not sufficiently transform Hart’s identity to escape the right of publicity claim. . View "Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc." on Justia Law

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Covington, a basketball official in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for more than 10 years, filed suit, alleging gender employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J. STAT. 10:5-1, because she has been excluded from officiating at boys’ high school varsity basketball games. The district court dismissed all claims against all defendants: the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, Board 193 (Board 193), which assigns officials to officiate at regular season high school basketball games; the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), which controls and supervises post-season tournament games and assigns officials to referee those games; the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials (IAABO), the Colonial Valley Conference (CVC), the Hamilton Township School District (“Hamilton”), a school at which Covington has officiated, and Dumont, the President of Board 193. The Third Circuit remanded to give Covington an opportunity to provide more facts as to her claim against Hamilton, Board 193, and NJSIAA, but affirmed dismissal of claims against the CVC and IAABO. View "Covington v. Int'l Assoc. of Approved Basketball Officials" on Justia Law