NFL players today asked U.S. District Judge David Doty for at least $707M in damages “stemming from a dispute with the league over $4 billion in broadcast revenue.” Doty took the request under advisement after a two-hour hearing that included “arguments from attorneys for the league and the players.” The judge began the hearing by “chiding both sides for their inability to reach” a new CBA. Doty: “I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t think we would have this hearing, and I’m a bit disappointed we are having it.” None of the team owners or “high-ranking league officials” attended the hearing (AP, 5/12)
The NCAA, believing that if at first you don’t succeed . . . , has again asked the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California to dismiss the antitrust and right to publicity lawsuit filed against them by lead plaintiff’s Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller. And again, the U.S. District Court rejected the NCAA’s request.
However, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken did dismiss the plaintiff’s antitrust claims against Electronic Arts Inc. (EA Sports), but not the right of publicity claims, finding that EA Sports did not violated antitrust law by conspiring with the NCAA to avoid paying former college athletes for the use of their images in video games.
The plaintiffs are moving forward and are seeking to take deposition testimony of NCAA President, Mark A. Emmert. The NCAA is filing motions to bar said deposition on the theory that such testimony is irrelevant since Dr. Emmert was not the President of the NCAA at the time the plaintiffs were allegedly damaged by the conduct of the NCAA.
“As the plaintiffs well know, Dr. Emmert was not at the NCAA during the time period at issue in this lawsuit.” Stated the NCAA, “The plaintiffs’ notice of his deposition at this point is inappropriate, and we will take action accordingly.”
A trial date has been scheduled for March 11, 2013.
The National Football League and the Owners will appear before their favorite Judge, U.S. District Judge David Doty, as he will listen to oral arguments from both the NFL and the former NFL Players’ Association as to whether damages should be assessed in what is now being referred to as the “lockout insurance case”.
Judge Doty ruled on March 1, 2011, that the NFL violated the collective bargaining agreement with the players when clauses were negotiated into broadcast contracts with the major networks wherein the networks would continue to pay rights fees to the owners even during the period of a lockout. So, if the players were locked-out and there were no football games played in 2011, the NFL and the Owners would still be guaranteed payments from the networks in an amount exceeding $4.5B.
The former NFL PA is requesting that the court assess damages against the NFL in an amount somewhere between $600M and $1B. The NFL is requesting that the $6.9M that they have already paid is sufficient.
Once again, if the court does assess damages against the NFL in excess of the $6.9M that was previously paid, the league, in all likelihood, will appeal that decision to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.