The Gridiron: Retired NFL Players Vow to Keep Pressing Ahead in Spite of Settlement

by

Nicholas Guarino. Arther Law’s Industry Insider

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Retired NFL players unsatisfied with the NFL’s recent settlement for violations of likeness and publicity rights are fighting a request by the League for an extended injunction against the players’ independent lawsuits.

A group of retired NFL players are urging a federal judge from Minnesota to block a request by the National Football League and other players, who recently settled a $42 million class action suit for publicity right, to block separate litigation from players who opted out of the settlement. The original suit, Dryer v National Football League, was brought because of alleged violation of players’ likeness and publicity rights, predominantly through the League’s NFL Films. While more than 25,000 players were included in the settlement agreement, there are over 2,000 who were not satisfied with the outcome and are pursuing independent litigation against the League. But those that opted out in hopes of a higher return are facing an October 4th request by the League and the settling players to extend an injunction against any separate opt-out litigation.

The injunction is a part of the NFL’s motion seeking final approval of the $42 million settlement. The League is asking the Eighth Circuit to extend the injunction against any opt-out lawsuits until 30 days after the court has decided any appeal from any order of the Minnesota Court granting final approval of the settlement.

The retired players objecting the request, known as the Culp plaintiffs, feel as though they have had their complaints delayed far too long, stating in their response brief, “It is time, finally, to let the opt-outs go their own way and litigate their cases.” They believe continuing the injunction would evidence a court that was over-extending its judicial powers and would “keep thousands of litigants around the country from exercising their fundamental rights to seek redress for their claims in a federal or state court, on the timetable that suits their needs, with the counsel of their choosing.”

The NFL’s lead counsel believes that allowing the suits before the final approval of the settlement would create vastly inconsistent rulings. Further, the League feels there would be no prejudice to the Culp plaintiffs because by “entering a stay…all parties have conceded that the limitations periods for the enjoined claims will be tolled for the duration of the stay,” and would still allow the suits to be brought once the stay is eventually lifted.

Both parties are awaiting a ruling by the Minnesota Federal Court to determine if the injunction will be extended.

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