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NFL Hall of Famers File Class Action against NFL over Unpaid Royalties

Written by Ankin Law Office

Football season is just around the corner, and the hits seem to be coming both on – and off – the field, with current and former football players standing up for their rights on the legal field. In addition to the thousands of lawsuits that are pending against the NFL, and a class action pending against the NCAA, alleging that the organizations concealed information about the dangers of head injuries, the NCAA stands accused of antitrust violations stemming from the improper use of players’ names and likeness. Most recently, ten former professional football players filed a similar lawsuit against the NFL and its production company.

The plaintiffs, including Curley Culp and John Riggins, filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey seeking payment for the use of their names, images, and likenesses from film footage they say was used on the NFL Network and to promote the NFL without the ex-players consent. The complaint alleges that, beginning in 1993, all players’ contracts granted the NFL authority to use the names, images, and likenesses of players to publicize and promote the league, but that similar clauses were not included in the plaintiffs’ contracts. Plaintiffs further allege that the NFL and NFL Productions violated state laws regarding unfair competition and rights of publicity, and a federal statute prohibiting unjust enrichment.

According to the plaintiffs, “NFL Films has never obtained authorization from retired players to use their images to be, as NFL Films puts it, the ‘backbone’ of the NFL Network. NFL Films’ conduct goes far beyond simple use of images without consent. It continues to this day to strike licensing business deals, in New Jersey, affirmatively, and falsely, misrepresenting that it has obtained all former players’ consent to appear in its promotional materials. The NFL does likewise.”

As previously mentioned, several current and former college athletes recently joined a similar lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports alleging price fixing in violation of federal antitrust statutes. Federal antitrust laws prohibit certain trade practices, such as price fixing and other illegal pricing schemes. The lawsuit against the NCAA accuses the organization of fixing at zero the amount of money that players can receive from video games and other products that use their names, likenesses, and images.

In both the lawsuit against the NFL and the lawsuit against the NCAA, the player plaintiffs are seeking class action certification due to the large number of potential plaintiffs and the complexity of the cases. The Chicago class action attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC are knowledgeable and experienced in handling class action suits of all kinds. Not every law firm has the capacity and resources to handle antitrust class actions, which can be complex, costly, and time consuming, but the Chicago antitrust law firm of Ankin Law Office has the knowledge and resources to efficiently and effectively manage large and complex lawsuits.

If you are a current or former athlete, whether at the collegiate level or the professional level, you may want to consult with a knowledgeable class action attorney like the Chicago class action lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Illinois class action lawyers.