Law & Policy: Civil Actions
Kickboxing Class Lawsuit Focuses on Gross Negligence
by By John T. Wolohan April 2014
Longtime readers of this column know that in most states, a well-written waiver, signed by an adult, can be an effective tool in protecting fitness and recreation providers from ordinary negligence, but what about gross negligence? That issue was at the heart of Honeycutt v. Meridian Sports Club, 179 Cal. Rptr. 3d 473 (2014).
Athletes' Unionization Attempt Scores Major Victory
by Michael Gaio March 2014
In their attempt to unionize college athletes, the Northwestern football players and the recently formed College Athletes Players Association scored a major victory on Wednesday.
Examining Membership Agreement Language in YMCA Lawsuit
by Kristi Schoepfer-Bochicchio March 2014
James Walters was on his way to his YMCA's indoor pool when he slipped and fell at the bottom of steps that led to the pool area. All of the steps — with the exception of the bottom step — were protected by slip-resistant rubber stair treads. Due to excessive wear, the non-slip tread on the bottom stair had been removed. Walters sustained significant injuries in the fall and required knee surgery.
Former WVU Football Player the Latest to Sue NCAA
by Michael Gaio March 2014
Former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston is the latest former student-athlete to sue the NCAA. Alston filed suit against the NCAA and college football's five major conferences on Wednesday, claiming they violated antitrust laws by agreeing to cap the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending school.
Judge Sends O'Bannon Class Action Against NCAA to Trial
by Emily Attwood February 2014
Remember Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA basketball player who filed suit against the NCAA more than four years ago, alleging it was profiting off of O’Bannon and other NCAA athletes’ likenesses found in EA Sports video games? After a long and winding road, a federal judge has okayed the class-action suit to go to trial, setting a start date of June 9.
While it is still possible a settlement between the NCAA and the plaintiffs will be reached prior to the start of the trial, the outcome of the lawsuit could have drastic consequences for the NCAA, college athletic conferences and television networks. At the heart of the lawsuit is the NCAA rule that prohibits student-athletes from profiting off of the use of their name, likeness or image.
"We're not asking for any money to be paid," said Michael Hausfeld, attorney for the plaintiffs, during a summary judgment hearing on Thursday. "We are asking for the restraint to be removed ... and then the market will determine how it plays out."
In January 2013, the lawsuit expanded to allow current athletes to join, as well as target other entities profiting off of athletes’ likenesses, including conferences and television networks. The plaintiffs are in the process of working out settlement details in their suit against EA Sports.
Thursday’s hearing took into account various arguments by both sides, including the NCAA’s assertion that the First Amendment protected it from requiring athletes’ permission to broadcast their appearances at games. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken also called into question whether the NCAA’s no-pay rule violated antitrust laws.
"Up to this point you always heard the NCAA argue that these restraints are lawful -- purportedly," Hausfeld said. "We're done with that. There's no presumptions. This court is saying if we go to trial, you're going to have to prove that."
Should a jury rule in favor of the plaintiffs, the results could bankrupt the NCAA, though a lengthy appeals process would first ensue. A less drastic outcome could result in concessions from both sides, with restrictions on athletes’ ability to profit from their likenesses removed or lessened, or schools agreeing to set aside a portion of revenues for athletes.
$1.7M Settlement Reached in P.E. Class Drowning
by Nick Daniels February 2014
More than one year after the tragic drowning of a high school student in Manchester, Conn., the Hartford Courant reported Sunday that a $1.7 million settlement had been reached between Malvrick Donkor’s family and the town of Manchester.
Donkor — a beginning swimmer — had been participating in a high school swimming class Nov. 21, 2012 when he left the shallow end of the pool for the deep end. Although other students had been swimming in the pool at the same time, no one noticed Donkor's absence until the end of class, by which time it was too late for the 14-year-old to be revived.
Despite a police investigation into the drowning after the incident, the police decided that there was no reason for a criminal prosecution. Donkor's family went on to file intent to sue for wrongful death and damages, alleging that school administrators failed."to protect, care, supervise, rescue and/or provide timely medical care."
“The settlement was in the best interests of the town and (Malvrick’s) estate,” Town Attorney Ryan Barry told the Courant. “We wish the family well.”
The drowning was the second by a Connecticut high school student in 2012, which has sparked a statewide effort to improve pool safety measures in high schools.
Facility Fails to Protect Stabbed Flag Football Player
by Kristi Schoepfer-Bochicchio February 2014
In June 2010, adult flag football player James Hilario was stabbed by opposing player Justin Farland during a game at an indoor sports and recreation facility in Somerset, Mass. Hilario sued the facility, owned by Teamworks, a private entity operating multiple indoor sports and recreation facilities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The lawsuit alleged that Teamworks was negligent for failing to provide proper security, implement safety and security procedures, and ban Farland from the facility when Teamworks management could have known that he possessed a knife.
Super Bowl Playing Field at Center of Lawsuit
by Michael Gaio January 2014
A week from today our football-crazed nation will be buzzing over the drama that unfolded on the field during the Super Bowl. Will the weather play a significant factor? Will Peyton Manning be able to thwart the NFL's best defense? We'll soon find out. However, today the Super Bowl drama has nothing to do with the teams on the field, but rather the playing field itself.
Judge: University Must Give Coach Termination Report
by Paul Steinbach November 2013
A judge ruled earlier today that Oakland University must provide former women's basketball coach Beckie Francis with a nearly unredacted copy of an investigative report that led to her June 12 firing.
Hot Dog Injury Could Challenge 'Baseball Rule' Precedent
by Paul Steinbach November 2013
John Coomer didn't see it coming, but is it reasonable to think that the Kansas City Royals should have?