Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9th Dist.)
Members of the Pennsylvania Senate have introduced Senate Bill No. 1188, which if enacted, would reform the regulatory oversight of the multi-billion dollar horse racing industry in the state. The new legislation would create a Bureau of Horse Racing tasked with duties ranging from drug testing enforcement to gift exchanges between breeders, owners, and trainers. Moreover, and perhaps of most interest to the many commentators following this story, the new legislation would effectively phase out the Racing Commissions that currently operates under the PA Department of Agriculture and would instead have the new bureau be run by the Gaming Control Board, which would also have the ability to grant online horse-race betting licenses to casinos across the state.
Among the sponsors of this bill is PA Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9th District). After receiving a Presidential Scholarship to Saint Joseph’s University and graduating with a B.A. in Economics in 1979, Pileggi went on to earn a J.D. from the Villanova School of Law in 1982. He chairs the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee and is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Prior to his election to the Senate, Senator Pileggi served as Mayor of the City of Chester.
Former Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton lays motionless on the ice after suffering a concussion in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. (Photo courtesy of the AP)
You didn’t have to be a lawyer to see this one coming.
After a group of former NFL players netted a $756 million settlement and the NCAA facing its fifth concussion lawsuit, it was only a matter of time before the NHL faced concussion litigation. Well, the time has come. A group of 10 former NHL players sued the league in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for failing to protect them from concussions. The plaintiffs, led by former Toronto Maple Leafs All-Star Gary Leeman, seek for the court to certify their class, which would allow these plaintiffs to sue on behalf of thousands of other retired NHL players and ratchet up potential damage awards into the billions (full text of the complaint after the jump).
Back in September I wrote that “the NHL should look at that $756 million [NFL] settlement and hide under the bed. In the coming years no full-contact professional sport will be immune from the realities of concussion litigation.” Looking back I should have bet the house on that prediction. Self-congratulating aside, unlike the NFL, the NHL could be crippled by this lawsuit.
The NCAA and NFL have television deals worth more than $1 billion annually. The NHL only receives $200 million per year through its agreement with NBC Universal, meaning they are less able to handle a massive litigation verdict. However, in an epic case of poor timing, the NHL just announced that it signed a 12-year, $4.9 billion deal with Rogers Communication in Canada. There is no doubt that the plaintiffs are salivating over that number.
Balls, athletes, and even hot dogs flying into the stands can now lead to huge tort liability for team owners.
Attending a professional sporting event carries some inherent risks. Balls, equipment, and even athletes themselves sometimes fly into the stands. Drunken idiots throw punches. Mascots can sometimes get a little handsy. Dangerous weather can roll in. And now, hot dogs and t-shirts are routinely shot out of guns, cannons, and slingshots, adding to the extensive list of things that can hurt you at a game.
What happens, though, when a flying object, such as a hotdog, that is not an inherent part of the game, injures a spectator? The answer, much like the state of sporting event tort law in this nation, is not so clear. But the Missouri Supreme Court is about to revisit the so-called “baseball rule” of tort law to determine what duties, if any, teams owe to spectators.
In a bizarre case arising out of an errant hot dog at a Kansas City Royals game, one plaintiff is seeking to expand the remedies available to injured spectators. John Croomer of Overland Park, Kansas says he was injured at a 2009 Royals game when the team’s mascot, Sluggerr, threw a four ounce, foil-wrapped hot dog into the stands that struck him in the eye. Croomer had to have two eye surgeries and now has permanently impaired vision. Croomer alleges that he incurred nearly $5,000 in medical costs and is seeking an award of more than $20,000.
For those who have been living 20,000 leagues under the sea for the past few weeks, there is a situation in the depths of the Miami Dolphins organization that has attracted national attention both in and out of the sports realm. Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the team two weeks ago citing emotional issues that stem from harassment and other mistreatment — including racial slurs, threats, and bullying — by teammate Richie Incognito. The Dolphins not-so-secretly suspended Incognito indefinitely (see what I did there?), who now risks permanent dismissal from the team. Although certainly the most publicized event of his career, whether on or off the field, this allegation would not be the first instance misconduct by Incognito, who has a history of suspension, arrest, and an overall “dirty” player reputation. The media has consistently been all over this story since it surfaced, and we at TheLegalBlitz.com thought it best to call in the pros for a proper analysis of some of the sports law issues at hand.
Jenna N. Kochen is an associate with Allen, Norton & Blue, P.A. in Miami, Florida. Kochen’s work is devoted exclusively to the practice of Labor and Employment Law, representing management interests in both the public and private sectors. Kochen’s (@JNK33) other interests include coaching a high school girl’s basketball team and cheering on her local sports teams.
High-flying lacrosse action could be coming to every major gaming console if a Kickstarter project succeeds. (Photo courtesy of Philly.com)
It is no secret that video games are big business. Last year, gamers in the United States spent more than $20 billion on mobile, computer, and console-based video games. Accounting for a large chunk of that pie is EA Sports — the undisputed king of sports video games. In the last fiscal year, EA Sports netted $3.8 billion in revenue thanks largely to the popularity of its Madden, FIFA and UFC games. Even despite its severance with the NCAA in the wake of the O’Bannon lawsuit, EA Sports is still on pace to break $4 billion in revenue this year.
Yet while EA dominates the sports market, it has failed to appreciate the popularity of one the world’s fastest growing sports — lacrosse.
Enter Carlo Sunseri, an entrepreneur armed with a sports management degree and a passion for lacrosse. Having dodged defenders as an offensive star at Robert Morris for four years, Sunseri set out to clear enormous licensing, funding, and intellectual property hurdles en route to making his first lacrosse video game, College Lacrosse 2010. Since that first game, Sunseri’s company, Crosse Studios, has created two more college games and scored a deal with the National Lacrosse League.
But Sunseri’s biggest project is currently underway on Kickstarter. Despite not possessing the clout of a company like EA, Sunseri successfully sealed a partnership with Australia’s leading game maker, Big Ant Studios to build Lacrosse 14 for Xbox and Playstation. Sunseri is seeking to raise $210,000. To date, Sunseri has raised more than $103,000 from nearly 1,000 backers.
Sunseri took a break from fundraising and shaking up the gaming industry to provide some insight into how a project of this magnitude gets off the ground and how lawyers, surprisingly, actually play a positive role.
1994 Olympic Gold Medalist Oksana Baiul is seeking $400 million in a RICO lawsuit against the William Morris talent agency.
Quick, name a female figure skating champion. Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt, any one will do. They are names we learn once every four years, see on a few Wheaties boxes, then probably never see again on a national stage unless they end up on Dancing With the Stars or Celebrity Rehab. Whoever wins the gold medal in Sochi in a few months might rake in a few million dollars in endorsement deals and then go tour with Disney on Ice, but would you think they could be worth nearly half a billion dollars?
Well, former Olympic champion Oksana Baiul believes she is, as she recently filed a lawsuit against her former talent agency, William Morris, in the New York County Supreme Court seeking more than $400 million in damages for misappropriating her funds, theft, and even violations of federal racketeering laws.
Although some of Baiul’s claims might have merit, her lawyer, Raymond J. Markovich, Esq., who doubles as a Hollywood producer, is really reaching for the stars in his damages assessment. To put this into perspective, Lebron James, one of the richest athletes in the world, earned $53 million last year. Baiul is seeking about nine times that amount.
Interestingly, Baiul originally sued William Morris last year in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming the agency had cheated her of millions in earnings, royalties and residuals after signing her when she was a minor and did not understand English. Now, in the Manhattan case, Baiul adds violation of federal anti-racketeering law to her list of claims, accusing William Morris and other individuals and entities of transferring and laundering her money.
*this article written in response to “Still the Greatest”, posted 10/6/13 on SportsLawBlog
As shown by the array of topics covered throughout this site alone, “sports law” is not conclusively defined. Concussion lawsuits, labor union disputes, steroid-based grand jury indictments, and the O’Bannon v. NCAA class action lawsuit certainly fit the mold, but this emerging niche of the legal profession seems to have encompassed more and more over time. So when I watched HBO’s new documentary entitled “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” about the Supreme Court’s 1971 decision to reverse Ali’s Vietnam War draft evasion conviction and a colleague of mine later referred to the case as “the greatest sports law story of all time,” I was intrigued and set aside some time to re-examine the reach of the legal profession subset to which this site is dedicated.
The Court’s opinion in and of itself makes no reference to boxing or sports whatsoever, but to say that the underlying story was free from sports influence is a message founded on misunderstanding. First of all, boxing organizations stripped Ali of his heavyweight title and state boxing commissions suspended his boxing license on the same day that he refused induction into the military. Would the New York State Real Estate Commission similarly revoke a realtor’s brokerage license the same day for the same offense? Second of all, if the film’s portrayal of events is at least some adaptation of truth, Justice Brennan says in granting certiorari to hear the case that “Yes, that’s right; we are hearing the case because the Petitioner is Muhammad Ali.” While traditionally the most secluded from public influence of the three branches of government, the Supreme Court may have indeed been encouraged to hear the Ali case at least partially because of his stardom, a force that perhaps even the most insulated of government bodies could not ignore and that ultimately helped Ali maintain his legacy.
By Jerry R. Caldwell, Esq., an Atlanta-based attorney and former Georgia Tech football player. Jerry specializes in Business Law, Litigation, Trademarks, and Sports & Entertainment Law. Follow him @JerryRCaldwell.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice celebrates Stanford's 2013 Rose Bowl Victory. Rice was recently appointed to the 13-member College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
Condoleezza Rice’s recent appointment as a member of the new College Football Playoff Selection Committee has become a highly debated issue. This is evidenced by the quotes and sound bites of one of the best players to ever play college football, ESPN College Football Analyst, David Pollack and legendary football coach, Pat Dye.
As a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket football player, I have witnessed the greatness of David Pollack on the gridiron on many occasions. However, his latest comments show he could not have been more off base regarding Condoleezza Rice’s appointment to the selection committee.
During a recent appearance as a college football analyst on ESPN’s College Game Day, David Pollack essentially stated that “women shouldn’t be allowed in football.” Shortly thereafter, he retreated to today’s proverbial PR machine, Twitter, to recant and redefine his position. Lo and behold, it was the same message presented with different words:
Fantex, Inc. has filed paperwork with the SEC to register a securities offering based on future earnings of NFL star Arian Foster -- and Arian is selling.
Most of us can pick out our favorite examples over time of athletes finding alternative sources of income based on their stardom. I still remember the first time that I heard Allen Iverson’s “40 Bars”, saw Shaq star as Kazaam, and more recently, read reports about Curt Schilling putting out every dollar and bloody sock he has into a video game obsession. The latest venture making headlines, however, has to top them all in terms of creativity: Houston Texans running back Arian Foster has elected to essentially have an initial public offering for himself, whereby investors buy shares in his future income and he collects the equity raised up front. Whether or not this works out, I was thrilled just to read about it, and I expect no less from professional sports’ favorite philosopher since Bernie Parent.
Here’s the short of how it works, as documented in papers filed with the SEC by the issuer, Fantex, Inc.: “As of October 17, 2013, we have entered into a single brand contract with Arian Foster, a professional athlete in the National Football League, or NFL, pursuant to which we will acquire a minority interest equal to 20% of the gross monies or other consideration (including rights to make investments) that Arian Foster receives from and after February 28, 2013, subject to specified exceptions, as a result of his activities in the NFL and related fields (including activities in a non-NFL football league), such as broadcasting and coaching. As consideration for this interest under the brand contract, we will pay Arian Foster a one-time cash amount of $10.0 million contingent upon our ability to obtain financing, which we intend to do through this offering.” Continue reading