Tarnished Twenty - The FindLaw Sports Law Blog - features sports law news and info about sports figures in trouble with the law


If you can remember back that far, in early 2016 a tattoo studio sued a video game company for depicting NBA players' tattoos for which they had allegedly not paid licensing fees. In the realm of fringe copyright lawsuits, this was one of the strangest -- after all, it wasn't the athletes themselves arguing that the game engineers were using the ink on their skin without compensation, but a tattoo studio arguing rights to artists' designs and work.

As it turns out, that battle is still raging in a New York federal court, where the video game company is arguing that its use of the tattoos amounts to fair use under copyright laws.

Fortunately for me, my not-so-illustrious baseball career ended long before being forced to stand in the batter's box while coaches hurled balls at my hip and rib cage, in order to teach me "muscle memory to avoid potential injuries in an actual game." Getting hit with a baseball, even a training ball that is supposedly lightweight and soft, is not a pleasant experience.

Not so pleasant that a mom whose son participated in the drill reported the coaches to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services and the Knox County Sheriff's Office. But after an investigation found no wrongdoing, the coaches have turned the table, suing the mother for defamation, false light, outrageous conduct, and intentional interference with economic advantage.

The battle between Pete Rose, best known for having the most hits all-time in baseball and also being banned from the sport, and John Dowd, best known for preparing the report that got Rose banned, continues, and continues to get ugly. In court documents obtained by ESPN, Rose allegedly had a sexual relationship with a woman for several years in the 1970s that began before she turned 16.

The woman's affidavit is part of a defamation lawsuit filed by Rose against Dowd, who claimed in a 2015 radio interview that the former Cincinnati Reds great had underage girls delivered to him at spring training.

It's possible that Joshua Hanshaw was just a fan looking for some souvenirs when he broke into Appalachian Power Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league affiliate, the West Virginia Power. After all, Hanshaw is wearing hitting coach Ryan Long's jersey in his mug shot following his arrest.

But that probably wasn't the case, as the reportedly homeless Hanshaw looted the Power's locker room for almost $4,000 worth of players' personal items like sunglasses, shoes, and toiletries that had been pre-packed for the team's upcoming road trip. Oh, and the jersey, too.

It's safe to say that the tide of public perception of sports gambling has turned in the last ten or twenty years. With the rise of fantasy sports and March Madness, the image of placing bets on sporting events has changed from seedy mob-affiliated bookies to Karen from accounting throwing a few bucks into an office pool. And states, perhaps eyeing the money to be made from legalized sports betting, have begun pushing back on the federal restrictions on gambling.

California is just the latest, with Assembly Constitutional Amendment 18, a proposed bill that would change the state's constitution, paving the way for legalized sports gambling in the Golden State.

The debate over compensating college athletes has raged for decades. And while the idea of paying student athletes a wage for playing a sport (or even allowing them to receive anything of value beyond a scholarship) remains dead on arrival, the notion that players should be compensated for their likeness has been gaining traction recently.

Last year, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the NCAA can't deny student athletes "the monetary value of their names, images and likenesses when used for commercial purposes." Given that colleges and universities were ordered to set aside money for the use of player likenesses until they graduate, the ruling ostensibly applied to athletes while they are enrolled in school. But what about before or after?

We may soon find out, as former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman has filed a lawsuit against the school and corporate partners Honda, Nike, and IMG College, LLC over the use of his name and image on banners displayed at venerable Ohio Stadium.

While Venus Williams was competing for a Wimbledon title, her lawyers were competing behind the scenes on a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the tennis star. Although police cleared Williams of responsibility in a car accident in Florida that ultimately claimed the life of Jerome Barson, Barson's widow and family sued, and discovery in the case is beginning to heat up.

The Daily Mail reports that Barson's family is requesting Williams's driving records, car insurance documents, and phone bills for the month of June, along with information regarding any and all medications she may have taken before the fatal crash.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a lawsuit, no escape from reality. Open your eyes, look up the Fan Duel and Draft Kings merger to see: the FTC has alleged that the merger violates the Clayton Act due to concerns that it will create a monopoly for daily fantasy sports.

The lawsuit, filed last month by the FTC, seeks to resolve the concern created by the merger by stopping it. Namely, since Fan Duel and Draft Kings are the main providers of paid fantasy sports gaming nationwide, when it comes to these contests or games, consumers don't really have any other choices. By merging together, consumers will have even less choice, and this will allow the sole company resulting from the merger to not have to be concerned about competition in the free market.

When it comes to signing one of those summer sports camp injury waivers, many parents often worry that they are signing away all their rights to sue if something goes wrong. Fortunately, this is not entirely the case.

Courts routinely refuse to uphold waivers in all sorts of situations. Although waivers do get upheld and enforced, even the best liability waiver is not going to work every time. Parents that are concerned about their children being injured due to just playing the sport will likely be disappointed to find out that most sports related injuries where there was adequate supervision do not lead to legal liability.

Today's Supreme Court ruling wasn't part of the Redskins' trademark battle over the franchise's controversial Native American logo and name, but the team's management and lawyers are still celebrating. That's because the big trademark ruling in the case of the Asian American music group, The Slants, paves the way for the Washington Redskins to restore the trademark rights that were cancelled by a federal court in 2015.

The music group's case centered on the same problem the Redskins are currently appealing, the Lanham Act's disparagement clause. Basically, the disparagement clause allows the Patent and Trademark Office to deny a trademark application when the trademark contains phrases or images that are offensive. The Court found the clause to be unconstitutional, and that the music group's controversial name was protected by the First Amendment, and, therefore, the band could not be denied trademark protection.