SBD/Issue 222/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Judge Denies NFLPA's Motion To Dismiss Retirees' Licensing Claims

A federal court judge late yesterday denied the NFLPA’s motion to dismiss claims by a group of retired players that they have not been adequately compensated for their licensing rights, clearing the way for a trial to begin on September 22. The case, first brought 18 months ago, seeks in excess of $100M in damages, said Ron Katz, attorney for former player Herb Adderley, the class representative of retired players who had group licensing agreements (GLAs) with the union between '03-07. Katz said, “Anyone who sees my clients situation will see they have a very deserving case.” U.S. District Judge William Alsup, in a decision issued yesterday, wrote, “There continues to exist a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the GLAs guaranteed retired players something more than empty promises.” NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler said, “We are obviously disappointed with the decision but we are highly confident there is no merit to this case and we look forward to proving that at the trial. The claim that the EA license and other agreements included retired players rights will be completely refuted by the testimony of all the licensees including EA that no such rights were obtained. The evidence is also going to show whenever the rights of retired players were utilized that money was paid to the retired players. What Mr. Adderley and his lawyers are doing in this case is seeking the money that is generated by active players. We believe the jury will understand that and reject Mr. Adderley’s claims.” Alsup noted in his opinion that while the NFLPA claimed the licenses did not include retired players, the language of the contracts said otherwise.

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