SBD/April 8, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Judge Gives Preliminary Approval To $50M Settlement In NFL Films Lawsuit

A Minnesota District Court judge this morning gave preliminary approval to the $50M settlement of a lawsuit brought more than three years ago by retirees against NFL Films for allegedly using their images without permission. The judge also blasted the original six plaintiffs, including Fred Dryer and Dan Pastorini, calling them “children” for opposing the settlement, announced last month. “It bears repeating: the individuals who originally brought this lawsuit and who now oppose the settlement rode into Court on the banner of saving their downtrodden brethren, those who had played in the NFL yet today were penniless and, often, suffering from injuries or illnesses directly related to their playing days,” wrote Judge Paul Magnuson. “It is the height of disingenuousness for these same Plaintiffs to now complain, like children denied dessert, that the settlement does not benefit enough the individuals who brought the lawsuit.” In the settlement, the NFL would distribute $42M to funds for needy retirees. Another $8M would be for legal fees and to start a licensing agency for retirees. The judge approved the board members for that agency: Jim Brown, Irv Cross, Billy Joe Dupree, Ron Mix, Darrell Thompson, Jack Youngblood and Dave Robinson. The original plaintiffs oppose the settlement because there are no direct payments to players. But Magnuson wrote he doubted those claims would succeed, especially in light of the fact that the statute of limitations only stretched back to '03. “Despite the opposing Plaintiffs’ belief in the merits of their case, a realistic view of this matter reveals serious difficulties,” he wrote. Magnuson set September 19, 2013, at 10:00am CT for the final hearing on the settlement.
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