Hagens Berman attorneys representing student-athletes who claim that the
NCAA illegally used student-athletes' names, images and likenesses in
Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:EA) popular NCAA Football, Basketball
and March Madness video game series today announced they have
reached a preliminary settlement with the NCAA that would add $20
million to the $40 million settlement reached recently with Electronic
This is the first time the NCAA has agreed to a settlement that pays
student-athletes for acts related to their participation in athletics.
According to Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead
attorney in the Keller v. NCAA, et al. litigation, the settlement
is significant not only for its contribution to the student-athlete
settlement fund, but for the precedent it sets. The Keller case was
scheduled for trial in March 2015 in federal court in California.
"This is the first time in the history of the NCAA that the organization
is paying student-athletes for rights related to their play on the
field, compensating them for their contribution to the profit-making
nature of college sports," Berman said. "We've long held through our
various cases against the NCAA that the student-athlete is treated
poorly in everything from scholarships to safety. This settlement is a
step toward equity and fairness for them."
The settlements cover claims made in the Keller and O'Bannon cases
against EA along with the Alston and Hart cases. Added to the earlier
$40 million EA settlement, each student-athlete class member could now
receive more than $1,000 for each year they appeared in the EA video
games, even more depending on the response and claim rates for the class.
"We began this case five years ago with the knowledge that the NCAA and
member schools were resolute in keeping as much control over
student-athletes as possible," Berman added. "But we were equally
resolute that anyone - even a student-athlete playing under scholarship
- should not be exploited for profit, especially by the organization
that vowed to prevent the athlete from exploitation."
This NCAA settlement benefits current and former student-athletes who
competed on an NCAA Division I college or university men's basketball
team or on an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision men's football team, and
whose images, likenesses or names were included in game footage or in EA
video games after 2005. The earlier settlement covers student-athletes
back to 2003, even if they were not in the video games.
The cases drew national attention because they revolved, in part, around
whether EA's video games and representations of the student-athletes
were protected under the First Amendment as artistic expression.
Judge Claudia Wilken in the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California must grant preliminary approval of the settlement
before ultimately approving the deal. The District Court and Ninth
Circuit rule in favor of the student-athletes.
More information, including case documents, is available at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/ncaavideogames.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law
firm with offices nine cities. The firm has been named to the National
Law Journal's Plaintiffs' Hot List seven times. More about the law firm
and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com.
The firm's class-action law blog is located at www.classactionlawtoday.com.
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