Back in 2009, a group of six players, lead by Fred Dryer, a former player for the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants, brought a class action lawsuit in federal district court in Minnesota. The suit was filed on behalf of all of the NFL’s retired players, with the demand that the players should be paid for the use of their likenesses by NFL Films and the National Football League.
In March, the NFL proposed a $50 million settlement, which would fund charities benefiting former players, provide job training and housing to former players, and create a licensing agency for retirees of the NFL. NFL Films would be allowed to continue to use the images.
The judge did not mince words expressing his displeasure with the group, saying that they brought the lawsuit on the grounds that they were representing their peers, yet are opposing the settlement because they won’t personally benefit enough. If the players don’t approve the settlement, they can only seek damages going back to 2003. Thus far, hundreds of former players have opted out of the class or have not objected to the settlement.
These kinds of lawsuits over professional sports leagues profiting on athletes’ likenesses are nothing new—a similar suit by Al Gionfriddo, a former Brooklyn Dodger, more than a decade ago, was unsuccessful. A similar lawsuit brought by former UCLA Bruin basketball player Ed O’Bannon in 2009 is still pending.
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Jim began representing Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World Evander Holyfield more than two decades ago, and has more than 35 years of courtroom experience. Jim helps businesses and individuals handle complex business litigation. Jim can also help analyze, evaluate, and resolve your existing and potential litigation in sports law matters, and general business litigation. Give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or email him today to set up a free consultation. To learn more about Jim, please visit www.litigationatlanta.com.