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5 of the summer's biggest sports lawsuits

A friendship turned sour, an ill-fitting helmet and three other sports-related suits making news

Expelled Star

Expelled Star

Feelings can get hurt when a student is expelled from his university, but when potential high-dollar earnings in a pro contract come into play, hurt feelings can quickly escalate into a lawsuit. That’s certainly the case with University of Maryland basketball player Dez Wells, who is now suing his former school Xavier University for defamation of character centering on his expulsion from the school. The Baltimore Sun says Wells seeks unspecified damages and an apology from Xavier President Father Michael J. Graham.

New York attorney Peter Ginsberg, who represents Wells, claims the suit is “to help Dez relieve the anxiety and correct the damage that was done to him and it's the only thing left to do to make Xavier, and other higher institutions as well, recognize the obligations they have to protect those accused wrongly." Dez Wells, a potential NBA draft prospect, feels the expulsion may have hurt his potential professional basketball earning power. In response, President Graham said in a statement, “We have read the complaint and the allegations of wrongdoing are unfounded and cannot be supported.”

Friend to Foe


Friend to Foe

Currently serving a 65-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun owes some fans an apology. But one former friend thinks Braun owes him an apology well, and he’s willing to go to court to get it. Ralph Sasson filed suit against Braun on July 31 in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, claiming defamation of character and unpaid services for helping Braun win the appeal of a drug test in 2011.

According to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the suit claims Sasson’s friendship with Braun deteriorated after Sasson demanded $5,000 for helping Braun beat a drug test appeal. Reportedly, Braun’s agent contacted Sasson to conduct research that would help Braun win the appeal. Sasson claims in the suit he conducted 300 hours of research, but Braun’s agent refused to pay for his services. In the suit, filed without a lawyer, Sasson submits 48 “requests for admission” from Braun, including that he “[u]sed steroids as far back as his playing days at Miami.”

 Camera Shy


Camera Shy TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz once called NFL Films “the greatest in-house P.R. machine in pro sports history” for its masterful editing of live game footage and original musical scores into entertaining packages. But there remains one thing NFL Films has not been so great at: paying former NFL players for their likenesses in advertisements for these tapes. As examined on InsideCounsel this morning, 10 former NFL players have fought back and filed suit against the NFL, claiming the league violated their rights of publicity in using their images to sell NFL products.

The 10 plaintiffs, who include NFL Hall of Famers Curley Culp, John Riggins, Ron Yary, Dave Casper and Tom Mack, claim the NFL Films advertisements prevent “commercial opportunities that would otherwise flow to and belong to the former players.” The NFL settled a similar suit in March, when it agreed to fund an account with $42 million that will help retired football players set up a licensing agency to manage their publicity rights. The NFL told Bloomberg the league is “disappointed that a few retired players believe that additional litigation will be productive” after the March ruling.

Stressful Encounters


Stressful Encounters

If you’re a Patriots fan, you may have felt this entire offseason was one long heart attack after Aaron Hernandez’s legal troubles. For one woman, though, Patriots-induced heart attacks are a more serious matter, and she intends to have her day in court. Kimberley Chartier of Chicopee, Mass., has filed a wrongful death suit against the New England Patriots, NFL and other plaintiffs after her husband experienced a fatal heart attack at a September 2010 Patriots game.

According to The Providence Journal, the heart attack occurred after Jeffery Chartier engaged in a confrontation with stadium security guards. Patriots officials had invited Chartier’s son, six-year-old Tedy, onto the field, but the suit claims security guards stopped him from accompanying Tedy onto the field. The suit claims “Jeff Chartier died as a result of cardiac arrest that was precipitated by agitation and stress” after the security guard confrontation. Kimberley Chartier seeks damages of at least $10 million in the suit.

Standard Safety


Standard Safety

If my mom taught me three things, it’s to look both ways before crossing the street, never chew with my mouth open and always wear a helmet when riding a bike. But what happens when a helmet actually hurts more than it helps? That’s what cyclist Jeffery Sohn claimed in LA Superior Court, filing suit against Easton-Bell Sports that the company’s Giro Pneumo helmet contributed to head injuries he suffered from a crash three years ago.

Earlier this week, however, Easton-Bell won the suit after attorneys were able to demonstrate that Sohn was wearing his helmet improperly. According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Easton-Bell’s attorneys argued Sohn wore his helmet too high on his head, despite instructions that came with the helmet. They also were able to show scratch marks on the helmet that contradicted Sohn’s recreation of the wreck. Easton-Bell is framing the verdict as a “pivotal” victory for helmet advocates, and they believe the ruling may create precedent in upcoming football helmet concussion suits as well.

Assistant Editor

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Zach Warren

Zach Warren is Assistant Editor of InsideCounsel magazine, where he oversees online content submissions and administers InsideCounsel's enewsletters. Zach specializes in new media and multimedia...

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