Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

February 2017 Archives

The prescription painkiller epidemic has led to more medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors for negligently prescribing pain medication. Those claims have begun to bleed into sports as well, with hundreds of former NFL players accusing the league and team doctors of illegally providing painkilling drugs to players and encouraging them to play despite serious injuries.

So can athletes sue doctors for prescribing opiates or painkillers? And what do they need to prove to win?

Football is a dangerous sport. Even though professional players get paid big salaries, when a player is injured playing the game, they can still qualify for workers' compensation like any other employee. Although workers' comp laws vary from state to state, generally, so long as an employee's injury occurs on the job, that employee will likely qualify for workers' comp if the injury renders them unable to work.

However, in Illinois and other states, the professional sports leagues are attempting to get legislation passed that would limit a professional athlete's ability to recover from workers' comp. for injuries suffered while performing. What makes these proposals so controversial is the fact that over the last decade, more and more information is being learned about player concussions and the many different permanent injuries that can manifest years after a player retires.

O.J. Simpson, once affectionately known as 'Juice' by friends and former-fans worldwide, could soon be a free man. O.J. was convicted nearly a decade ago in a sports memorabilia heist in Las Vegas, where he, along with others, were arrested for the armed robbery of a sports memorabilia dealer. Although he was sentenced to 30 years, he is eligible for parole this year. If denied, he'll have to wait until 2022 for his next opportunity at parole.

Based upon one report, it appears likely that the Juice will be let loose as he has avoided all trouble while incarcerated. Nevada uses a point system to guide the parole board's discretionary decision, and based upon the information publicly available, he seems poised to have a good chance of being granted parole. Nevada's system recognizes that O.J. is an older convict, with no write-ups, no criminal history, a stable employment history, and that during his incarceration he availed himself of the rehabilitation and education services offered by the institution. Despite public opinion, based upon the Nevada parole board's criterion, the Juice appears to be a model inmate.

The Lance Armstrong doping scandal was one of those things that shook the entire sports world. Armstrong was world-renowned as one of the best bicyclists of all time -- until it was discovered that nearly all of his accolades were the product of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), commonly referred to as steroids, or doping.

From 2001 to 2004, the United States Postal Service gave over $30 million to Lance Armstrong's professional cycling team under a sponsorship agreement. During that time, the sponsorship agreement included a provision that essentially prohibited the use of PEDs by sponsored riders, allowing USPS to suspend or fire riders. Nevertheless, Lance Armstrong earned millions, despite having used PEDs throughout his career.

As if the Sandusky name had not been sullied enough, Jeffrey Sandusky, adopted son of former Penn State football assistant coach and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, was arrested and charged yesterday on a multitude of child sex charges.

The charges involve text messages to two girls -- one 15 and the other 16-years-old at the time -- asking for naked photos and oral sex. Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told the AP Sandusky "made statements. I wouldn't classify them necessarily as directly inculpatory, but I don't think they helped him much."

A recent lawsuit filed against Brandon Spikes, of the Buffalo Bills, is seeking payment of a court judgment that was the result of unpaid fish services performed by "the Fish Guy." Spikes, apart for being known for his ability to tackle and move back and forth between the Bills and Patriots, enjoys his tropical fish. Unfortunately, during one of the moves between Buffalo and New England, tropical fish drama ensued. Following the fish drama, the Fish Guy filed his fishy lawsuit.

Spikes had hired the Fish Guy in order to pack up and move his tropical fish and aquarium. Spikes had also purchased a large, $8,000 fish tank from the Fish Guy. During the move, and shortly after, approximately $2,500 worth of Spikes' fish died. Spikes believes that the deaths are due in part to the new tank that was not right, despite being recommended by the Fish Guy, and due to the Fish Guy's negligent packing and moving of them.

While sports teams, leagues, conferences, colleges, and even coaches and other staff have been put in the hot seat over concussion-gate, the well known helmet maker Riddell is being brought into the fray by college and high school football players. While the NFL players' lawsuit against the helmet maker started in the middle of last year and has gone nowhere yet, a class-action was filed last month against the same helmet maker on behalf of former high school and college players.

The new lawsuit contains many of the same allegations as the NFL players' suit regarding the helmet company's safety claims, as well as allegations that the manufacturer failed to warn players about the dangers of repeated concussions, which their helmets could not prevent. It is alleged that Riddell was aware that its marketing and advertising were misleading, and that they misrepresented the safety of their helmets.

It turns out the cheerleaders employed by pro football teams aren't big fans of their teams' employment agreements. And perhaps for good reason. A new class action lawsuit claims 26 of its 32 teams agreed "to eliminate competition for female athletes with the intent and effect of suppressing the compensation and mobility of female athletes."

Filed by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader just days before the Super Bowl, the lawsuit also says the NFL itself "conspired with the Defendant NFL Member Teams to coordinate, encourage, facilitate, and implement the agreement in order to pay female athletes below fair market value."

A Salt Lake City, Utah, teen filed a federal lawsuit against her school district in order to have the same right as boys to choose which wrestling team she joins. Yesterday, news broke on Twitter that the federal court judge approved the emergency injunction, which was requested at the time of filing the lawsuit, that will allow her to wrestle in the upcoming season which is close to starting.

Kathleen is 15, but unlike 15-year-old boys in her junior high, she was not allowed to choose whether she wanted to wrestle on the high school team or the junior high team. The school district was requiring her to join the high school team, which is made up of older student athletes and would require her to miss part of her last class each day to travel to practice. Additionally, it is nothing more than a policy issue as the school already has adequate facilities.

Louisville Slugger is probably the most famous name in bat making. But a group of customers are suing the legendary brand, claiming it manufactured a defective bat and then tried to avoid liability by claiming the defect was intentional, to help customers improve their swings.

It's a novel approach, but will it be a home run in court?