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The Blitz 2/23/2020

The BlitzFebruary 23, 2020

Our picks for the
Ten Most Interesting Sports Law Stories
from the past week.


Don’t Bet On Constitutionality Of Daily Fantasy Sports In NY

(Law360-Patrick Reilly, Kevin DeMaio, Tess Godhardt and Justin Hay 02/20/2020)–Delivering another blow to daily fantasy sports operators in New York, a New York state intermediate appellate court recently ruled in White v. Cuomo that DFS contests — such as those offered by FanDuel and DraftKings violate the New York Constitution.

The decision means that DFS operators face an uncertain future in New York, at least until the state’s highest court weighs in or the Legislature amends the New York Constitution.

The New York Constitution, aside from certain specific exceptions, generally prohibits gambling.  In 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that declared that DFS contests do not constitute gambling and, thus, cleared the way for DFS operators to conduct business in New York.  Continue reading…  |  Opinion  |  Ed.: Pretty impressive that Daniel Wallach predicted this four years ago in this June 21, 2016, Law360 piece:  NY Fantasy Sports Law May Face Constitutional Roadblock


Claim by former ASU athletics official could roil men’s basketball program

(The Athletic-Doug Haller 02/20/2020)–A former Arizona State senior associate athletics director claims he was fired after reporting one of the athletic department’s top donors sexually harassed his wife and acted inappropriately toward others, including the wife of men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley.

According to a 12-page notice of claim obtained by The Athletic, Dave Cohen informed ASU Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson on March 25, 2019, that donor Bart Wear had acted inappropriately toward his wife, Kathy, at halftime of a basketball game during last season’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. The notice of claim alleges that ASU waited nearly five months to investigate those allegations and that Anderson’s initial response was to protect the donor.  Continue reading…


Swiss Prosecutors File Charges In FIFA World Cup Bribe Case

(Law360-Joanne Falkner 02/20/2020)–Swiss prosecutors said Thursday they have brought criminal charges against the president of French soccer club Paris St-Germain and a former FIFA official following an investigation into the sale of media rights for various international tournaments.

The Swiss Attorney General’s Office has charged Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who also runs Qatar broadcaster BeIN, with inciting former FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke to break the law and charged Valcke with accepting bribes and criminal mismanagement.

A third unnamed businessman has also been charged with incitement to commit criminal mismanagement and bribery in connection with the latest scandal at FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governing body of world soccer. It regulates the game across the globe and runs the World Cup held every four years.  Continue reading…

Analyzing the Case: Attorney Sues Heat, Claims Team Fired Her For Taking Parental Leave

(Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann 02/19/2020) In a new federal lawsuit, a prominent sports attorney who recently became a mother accuses the Miami Heat of violating the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Vered Yakovee, who served as vice president and associate general counsel of the Heat from March 2015 to December 2019, contends that team leadership began to treat her poorly—and illegally—after she informed them that she was adopting a newly born baby and would need to go on maternity leave.  Continue reading…


KU Must Hand Over Hoops Scandal Info In Coach’s Firing Suit

(Law360-Zach Zagger 02/19/2020)  The University of Kansas athletics department must hand over information on why it did not terminate head basketball coach Bill Self and others after the basketball program was implicated in the federal college hoops corruption probe to a former football coach who says the school is holding back his $3 million severance over a less serious NCAA investigation.

Former Kansas Jayhawks football coach David Beaty, who was let go in 2018 after going 6-42, is suing Kansas Athletics, alleging that the school changed its reasoning for firing him after-the-fact so it would not have to pay his severance after discovering the program was under NCAA investigation over the conduct of a football staff member.  Continue reading… | Order


Olympic Committee Urges Court To Nix Coverage Dispute

(Law360-Mike Curley 02/20/2020)–The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee is urging a Colorado federal court to toss a suit filed by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. over the coverage of lawsuits alleging the organization covered up sexual abuse, saying the court has no jurisdiction over a federally chartered organization like the USOPC.

In a reply brief filed Wednesday, the USOPC, formerly known as the United States Olympic Committee, or USOC, told the court that Philadelphia’s arguments that the organization is a “citizen” of Colorado are off the mark and that federally chartered organizations are only under such jurisdiction if a federal statute explicitly states so. Otherwise, they are only considered citizens of the country as a whole.

The USOPC’s charter only confers removal jurisdiction, under limited circumstances and only by the USOPC’s decision, not original jurisdiction, the organization argued, adding the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that federal charters do not confer state jurisdiction unless they specifically say so.

Philadelphia’s April 2019 lawsuit asks the court to declare it has no duty to defend the USOPC or pay $12 million in sexual abuse coverage because the organization omitted knowledge of manifold abuse problems across multiple sports in its 2015 applications for coverage.  Continue reading…  |  Response


The USWNT Cannot Strike and More Revelations From Latest U.S. Soccer Lawsuit Filings

(Sports Illustrated-Michael McCann 02/21/2020)–With a May 5 trial date looming, the class action lawsuit brought by members of the U.S. women’s national team against U.S. Soccer has entered an important pretrial phase: each side has filed for summary judgment.

Late Thursday, the two sides combined to file 144 documents, totaling over 1,000 pages, in the U.S District Court for the Central District of California. They hope to persuade Judge Gary Klausner to rule on key issues before the trial begins. The 78-year-old judge, who earned a Bronze Star for his service as a United States Army captain in the Vietnam War and whom President George W. Bush nominated to the bench in 2002, will hold a hearing on the summary judgment motions in his Los Angeles courtroom on March 30. On one hand, there’s the U.S. women, who are seeking over $66 million in damages. On the other extreme is U.S. Soccer, which is seeking to have the case dismissed altogether.  Continue reading…

3 While dropping to the #3 spot this week, the Astros cheating scandal is the #sportslaw gift that continues to keep on giving…

Astros affiliate pulls seats from law firm that filed cheating scandal suits

(The Athletic-Daniel Kaplan 02/21/2020)–Bob Hilliard’s Corpus Christi, Texas-based law firm has long had a deep connection with the local Hooks minor-league baseball team, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. Since the ballpark opened in 2005, Hilliard Martinez Gonzales (HMG) started with six seats behind home plate, added a suite three years later, then a total of 11 seats behind home plate, and even a sponsored night in which the law firm annually buys a T-shirt for all in attendance. Hilliard’s kids threw out first pitches.

Last week Hilliard filed lawsuits against the Astros on behalf of season ticket holders who want their money back in the wake of the team’s sign-stealing scandal. Days later the Hooks, owned by the Astros, notified the law firm that its $45,000-a-year partnership with the minor-league team was not being renewed.  Continue reading…

2 The battle for college athlete rights marches on…

The NCAA’s Latest Filing In Alston Continues Its Nonsensical Campaign

(Advocacy for Fairness in Sports-Derek Helling 02/20/2020)–The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ call for both sides in Alston v. NCAA to submit briefs on how California’s pending college athletes publicity rights law affects the case has been fulfilled. There are no surprises, especially if you’re familiar with the NCAA’s arguments for why the federal government should continue to ignore its illegal cartel.  Continue reading… | See also:   NCAA Spars With Players Over Calif. Pay Law At 9th Circ.  (Law360-Bryan Koenig 02/20/2020)

NCAA May Allow All Athletes To Play Right After Transfer

(Law360-Zach Zagger 02/18/2020)  The NCAA said Tuesday it is considering a change to its transfer rules to allow college athletes in all sports to play immediately after transferring to a new school after a series of legal attacks alleging the requirement that athletes sit out a year is unlawful.

A special working group on the transfer rules is considering a change to allow college athletes in all sports to compete immediately upon transferring if certain criteria are met, the same standard already in place for athletes in sports other than basketball, football, baseball and men’s ice hockey.  Continue reading…

See also: NCAA Wants Timeout On $33M Bill In Student-Athlete Row (Law360-Mike LaSusa 02/19/2020) | Brief

The NFL-NFLPA CBA retakes the #1 spot this week:

The NFL’s Proposed CBA – #JustSayNo

(Advocacy for Fairness in Sports-Sheilla Dingus 02/23/2020)–It was an interesting 24 hours.  During this time the NFL voted to adopt a proposed CBA and a vote was to be taken by the NFLPA executive committee.  Conflicting reports sprang from there.  The NFLPA’s official statement is that no vote was taken, however, according to Tom Pelissero a vote was taken and it was 6-5 against adopting the proposed CBA.  Continue reading…

Beware NFL Owners Eagerly Bearing $5 Billion in Gifts

(Dealbreaker-Jesse Spector 02/22/2020)–The NFL and the NFL Players Association are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, with ownership proposing two additional playoff teams and a 17 regular-season game. ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote on Wednesday, “there is now mounting optimism it could be done sometime in the next week.”

Oh, really?

“I disagree with the 17 games,” Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette tweeted on Thursday.

“Hard no on that proposed CBA,” Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt tweeted hours laterContinue reading… | See also:  Will the 17th game be a dealbreaker for players? (The Athletic-Lindsay Jones 02/20/2020)

Bonus reading

NFL’s Saints backed by church in effort to keep emails secret — (AP 02/21/2020)

Antonio Brown, Raiders set for $30M grievance hearing over lost pay: Report — (Fox Business-Tom Barrabi 02/20/2020)

Judge Dunks Ex-Knick’s Defamation Suit Against Team Owner — (Law360-Mike Curley 02/19/2020)  |  Opinion and Order

Seeger Weiss Bashed For ‘Excessive’ Fee In Concussion Deal — (Law360- Ryan Boysen  02/20/2020)  |  Brief

Prosecutor, PSU Atty To Be Disciplined Over Sandusky Probe — (Law360-Matt Fair 02/19/2020)

Charity Hits LeBron’s Uninterrupted, Others With $33M IP Suit — (Law360-Mike Curley 02/18/2020) |  Complaint

NFL Battles Controversial Redo Request In Concussion Deal  —   (Law360-Ryan Boysen 2/18/2020) | Gordon Brief  | NFL Brief

Ex-NFLer Says New Tests Not Needed In Pain Pump Case — (Law360-Mike Curley 02/18/2020)  | Plaintiff’s Response to Stryker Motion to Compel

Ex-Wisconsin WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Assistant Marcus Randle El arrested, charged in double homicide — (College Football Talk-John Taylor 2/16/2020)

Ex-NBA Player Urges Justices To Review His Pension Fight — (Law360-Adam Lidgett  2/14/2020)

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