A Glimpse Into Five Compelling, and Current, Sports Law Cases

A Glimpse Into Five Compelling, and Current, Sports Law Cases

(What follows are the leads from each of five case summaries in the latest Sports Litigation Alert, the nation’s leading sports law periodical. Published for 18 years, the Alert features a searchable archive of 3,000 mostly original articles, which subscribers have access to. In addition, approximately 75 sports law professors use the Alert in the classroom any given semester by utilizing the classroom program or a library subscription.)

Student’s Right to Free Speech Is Not Unlimited in Case Involving College Football Game

By John E. Tyrrell and Sarah Polacek

On September 30, 2021, a United States District Court addressed the limitations on the First Amendment protections of a student’s rights to free speech at a school-sponsored event in Sasser v. Bd. of Regents, No. 1:20-cv-4022-SDG, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188703 (N.D. Ga. Sept. 30, 2021). Judge Steven D. Grimberg ultimately dismissed the Plaintiff student’s Amended Complaint which alleged violations of his First Amendment rights.

Not All Covid Lawsuits Are Force Majeure: 9th Circuit Upholds Virus Exclusion in Case Involving Chattanooga Lookouts

By Gary Chester, Senior Writer

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of sporting events, sports attorneys immediately began to consider the legal ramifications. While many lawyers discussed force majeure, there are other legal concepts at issue. One example is the virus exclusion contained in general liability insurance policies.

Andre Royal v. NFL Retirement Board: He Who Hesitates Is (Usually) Lost

By Jeff Birren, Senior Writer

Andre Royal played in 60 NFL games in the late 1990’s. He began receiving NFL disability benefits in 2001, after being diagnosed as “totally and permanently disabled.” In 2015 Royal unsuccessfully sought reclassification that would have “resulted in greater benefits.” Royal sued the NFL Retirement Board, claiming that the Board violated ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1022 for failing to provide him with a summary of the plan, for failing to provide an adequately explained the Board’s interpretation of certain key terms, and for breach of fiduciary duty. The District Court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss based on the statute of limitations. Royal appealed, but the Second Circuit affirmed (Andre Royal v. Retirement Board of the Bert Bell/ Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan et al, Case No. 20-4184, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 29606; 2021 WL 4484925 (“Royal”) (10-1-21)).

Nissan Stadium PSL Owners are in the Catbird Seat after Surviving the Tennessee Titan’s Motion to Dismiss

By Robert J. Romano, JD, LLM, Senior Writer

In March 2021, eleven Personal Seat License (PSL) holders filed suit against the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and Cumberland Stadium, Inc. in the Chancery Court of Tennessee at Nashville. Per their complaint, the plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment, alleging that the NFL franchise violated Tennessee law by unilaterally changing the terms of their agreed upon PSL contract after labeling them as ‘ticket resellers’. In addition to the request for a declaratory judgment, the plaintiffs alleged five additional causes of action: Breach of Contract and Breach of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Violation of the Tennessee’s Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Negligent Misrepresentation, Breach of Contract and Breach of the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (Course-of-dealing), and Promissory Estoppel

Madruga v. Utah High Sch. Activities Ass’n – Denying Exception Used to Protect the Greater Good

By Michael A. Ross, MS

On August 24, 2021, Colson Madruga (Plaintiff) filed a complaint against the Utah High School Activities Association Inc. (“UHSAA”), The Board of Education of Washington County School District (“Board”), Mike Bair, Richard Holmes, and Craig Hammer (Defendants) stating the aforementioned had violated his rights under the United States Constitution in the form of discriminatory action, which prohibited him from participating in UHSAA-sanctioned sports at Dixie High School. Soon after, the plaintiff would file a preliminary injunction requesting that the court enjoin the UHSAA from barring his participation in UHSAA-sanctioned sports for the 2021-2022 school year.