Sports

golf ball.jpgMay 2009 must be a month of mixed emotions for Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York mayor (and unsuccessful presidential candidate) Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani the younger sued Duke University for kicking him off the golf team.

On the positive side, he graduated from Duke this month (even if he did miss the graduation ceremony). On the negative side, he lost he’s one step closer to losing his breach of contract case against Duke — and now, thanks to the humorous opinion by a little-known North Carolina judge, he’s being subjected to a quadruple bogey of humiliation.

CORRECTION: Giuliani hasn’t lost his lawsuit yet. The magistrate judge has merely recommended dismissal to the district judge.

Magistrate Judge Wallace Dixon dismissed recommended dismissal of Giuliani’s suit, with golf references playing through the whole 12-page opinion.

Here’s a sampling of leads from various news sources:

ESPN: Suffice it to say that in U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Dixon’s opinion, ousted Duke University golfer Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit against the school did not make par.
New York Daily News: Andrew Giuliani’s bid to sue Duke University for kicking him off its golf team ended in the rough this week.
New York Times: A federal magistrate judge with a taste for sports metaphors has found that Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit against Duke University for letting a coach push him off the university’s golf team is “a swing and a miss.”
San Jose Mercury News: A judge treated Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit with all the gravitas it deserved — which is to say, there’s a legal document in North Carolina that was inspired by “Caddyshack.”
The News and Observer: The son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to make a federal case against Duke University for kicking him off the golf team. But a federal magistrate says Andrew Giuliani’s case belongs in the drink.

The News & Observer wins the contest for wonkiest golf metaphor. Excerpts from the opinion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Opinion of the Day: Giuliani v. Duke University”

quinn redskins.jpgHere’s a post devoted to the perils of “Reply All” and idealism among first-year associates. Brought to you by the attorneys of Quinn Emanuel.
The firm just celebrated a victory in its Washington Redskins case, reports the Washington Post:

A federal appeals court yesterday handed the Washington Redskins another victory in their long-running legal dispute with Native American activists over the team’s name.
The appeals court did not address whether the name was offensive but upheld a federal judge’s ruling last year that a Native American man had waited too long to challenge six Redskins trademarks.

AmLaw Daily reports that Quinn attorney Robert Raskopf, who has been working on the case for as long it has been since the Redskins have seen a Superbowl stadium, was pretty psyched about the victory:

Raskopf was in a good mood when we spoke with him about the appellate win. He’s been on the case since it started 17 years ago. “It’s a great win for the team,” said Raskopf, who had help from Quinn partner Sanford Weisburst on the brief. “I’m so happy for the Redskins and their fans.”

Raskopf was so happy on Friday that he sent out a firm-wide victory e-mail. But not everybody was thrilled. After bouncing around the firm and racking up some responses, the victory chain made its way to our inbox via a tipster:

This is too good not to share. This was sent to all Quinn attorneys.

The First Year Associate Who Shat All Over Raskopf’s Victory Email OR The First Year Associate Who Repurposed the Redskins

After the jump, see the chain that culminates in a (soon-to-be-fired?) first-year associate’s plea for idealistic litigation at Quinn.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quinn Emanuel Associate Has Reservations About ‘Redskin’ Victory”

EA lawsuit.jpgLet me give the uninitiated a brief rundown of how the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) deals with student athletes. (If you already know this, feel free to skip ahead to the jump.) Universities make tons of money on college sports. Athletes receive a free college education. Universities make tons of money selling paraphernalia associated with popular teams and players. Athletes are not allowed to profit off of their skills while still in school. Universities = tons of money. Athletes = pretend to go to school. College sports programs = big business. Athletes = unpaid interns.
As Smilin’ Jack Ross would say: “There are the facts, and they are indisputable.”
Let me give the uninitiated a brief history of sports video games. (Again, the jump is right there.) People used to play video games using fake teams and fake players. Then professional sports leagues figured out that they could make a lot of money by licensing out their teams’ logos and jerseys. Then labor unions realized they could make a lot of money by licensing out the likenesses of their players. Then sports video games became cool. Then Michael Jordan decided he could make even more money for his specific likeness (because he was Michael Jordan and nobody else was). Then video game makers allowed people to create their own players, so everybody made their own version of Michael Jordan (mine … played for the Knicks). Now professional players get their video game money through their union and everybody is happy.
Everybody still with me? Okay, so you can see the obvious problem with college sports video games. Everybody wants real teams and real players, but the game publishers can’t use the likenesses of actual college players. That would be stealing! But since it’s perfectly legal for the NCAA to prevent kids from earning money for playing college sports, there’s not really anybody video game publishers can pay for the rights. Except the colleges and universities themselves. Who, again, make a metric ton of money off of college sports.
So, game publishers like Electronic Arts, essentially, cheat. If you pick up the copy of a college sports game, you’ll see all the players, with their accurate numbers, positions, player attributes, pretty much everything except the players’ actual names. Luckily, you can change the names of players, and every year hundreds of users sit there and change all of the names of all the players to their real life counterparts. Then people like me pay for the “updated rosters” (back in the day) or simply download them for free.
And everybody is happy.
Except, of course, the college athletes. Especially the college athletes that have only a limited chance of going pro but are very popular college athletes and want to get a little more than a diploma out of it.
Okay, enough set up, let’s get into what Nebraska QB #9 (Sam Keller) and others are doing about it.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “College Athletes Finally Sue Electronic Arts/NCAA for Misappropriation of their Likenesses”

Barnstable Brown Gala.jpgWhile the NFL Draft is the premier sporting event going on this weekend, we aren’t too far away from the Kentucky Derby. That means planning for all of the events surrounding the Derby is well under way. One of the most exclusive Kentucky Derby parties is being organized by a 26-year-old law clerk.

Chris Barnstable-Brown — whom we mentioned briefly last year, back when he was still in law school — is currently clerking for Judge Boyce F. Martin (6th Cir.), by day. By night (and on lunch breaks), he organizes the Barnstable Brown Gala, which is the place to be in Louisville on race day:

While it’s known as one of Louisville’s most star-studded Derby events (People magazine once listed it among the top parties in the nation), the Barnstable Brown Gala has been going on for 20 years now, long enough for an event to get stale and vulnerable to competition. Over the years, smaller, more accessible parties have sprung up and gained enough stature to pull in a few big names of their own.

Yet there’s no sign that the gala will lose its top dog status anytime soon, in part thanks to Barnstable-Brown. He keeps his mother, gala co-hostess Tricia Barnstable Brown (Chris hyphenates his name, while Tricia does not), hip to the hottest celebrities of the moment and does what it takes to help get these stars to the party.

Mmm … landed gentry.

Running an exclusive Derby party has given Barnstable-Brown a pretty impressive list of contacts:

Over the years, Barnstable-Brown has aided with efforts to lure hip-hop stars like P. Diddy, Jermaine Dupri, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Ludacris. His efforts are helping, bit by bit, to bring a more up-to-date edge to the gala, which has had, at times, relied on decidedly B-list stars to populate its guest list….

A football fanatic, Barnstable-Brown, a wide receiver on the football team during his high school days at St. Xavier, takes on the job of rounding up star athletes, too. NFL superstars like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have also become regulars at the party. Last year, he helped seal the deal on getting football bad boy Terrell Owens, then with the Dallas Cowboys, to the gala.

But can he turn those names into clients? After the jump, the rich keep getting richer.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day II: The Kentucky Derby Clerk”

Florida Marlins Boondoggle.JPGWhile President Obama and a bipartisan Congress spent most of last weekend trying to recoup $165 million in taxpayer money that insurance giant AIG paid to its upper-level employees, the Miami-Dade County Commissioners were finalizing a plan to spend $359 million in taxpayer money to build a new baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins “bailout”-demanding owner Jeffrey Loria.

The Marlins new stadium, anticipated to open in 2012, will be neither the first baseball-oriented stadium built with public dollars (that distinction belongs to Milwaukee County Municipal Stadium), nor the most expensive subsidized baseball stadium (that distinction belongs to the Washington Nationals’ new $611 million facility). Yet, this new stadium may ultimately come to symbolize all that is wrong with the relationship between Major League Baseball and the American city.

From a taxpayer perspective, the Marlins new stadium deal epitomizes fiscal irresponsibility. First, the specific terms of the Marlins stadium agreement skew hugely in the Marlins’ favor (more so than many other recent stadium deals). Under the agreement, the local government will be responsible for covering approximately three quarters of stadium building costs, while the Marlins will get to keep all stadium revenues — even those revenues from events completely unrelated to baseball, and even those revenues derived from selling stadium naming rights.

And we haven’t even gotten to the worst part. More on that after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: The Marlins New Stadium; More Pork to the Fattest Pig in Town”

billy blanks tae bo seyfarth shaw above the law.jpgThe 90′s were good to Billy Blanks of Tae Bo fame. His taekwando-boxing hybrid workout routine was all the rage across the land, with Paula Abdul a notable follower.

After his career peaked, the legal troubles started. In 1999, he filed a $10 million suit against his agent, because his agent wasn’t licensed to be an agent. And he hired Seyfarth Shaw to represent him. The case did not go well, and Blanks kick-boxed a malpractice suit Seyfarth’s way. One of Seyfarth’s L.A. partners, William Lancaster, bore the full brunt of Blanks’ aerobic fury, because Blanks alleged that he missed the statute of limitations by four weeks because Lancaster was dilly-dallying in the Superior Court system rather than taking his complaint to the labor commissioner, where it belonged.

The malpractice suit was decided in Blanks’ favor, and he was awarded $30 million. But the Second District Court of Appeals has reversed the judgment and remanded the case to the trial court.

Not without a cardio-kick to Seyfarth. From the Legal Pad:

[The] Second District Court of Appeal ruling that gave [Seyfarth] that dancing-with-joy moment wasn’t very kind to their law firm: It almost scoffed at their defenses to a celebrity’s claim of legal malpractice….

[Justice Richard Aldrich] had a warning for Seyfarth (and the trial judge) on remand. Aldrich speculated that Seyfarth will argue that Lancaster’s decision to delay filing a TAA petition was “a reasoned choice” or a “prudent trial strategy.” But he indicated that won’t be easy.

“Although attorneys have wide latitude in selecting strategy,” Aldrich wrote, “Seyfarth will have the burden to explain why its choice to delay filing a TAA petition was based upon a rational, professional judgment that would have been made by other reputable attorneys in the community under the same or substantially similar circumstances.”

Billy Blanks is giving Seyfarth quite the work-out.

Seyfarth off Hook for $30 Million Award — for Now [Legal Pad]

Court Throws Out $30 Million Legal Malpractice Award [Metropolitan News-Enterprise]

Second District Court of Appeal Ruling

Michael Phelps pot marijuana bong.jpgThis just in, from the AP:

A South Carolina sheriff said Monday he was not going to charge swimmer Michael Phelps after a photo of the 14-time gold medalist showed him smoking from a marijuana pipe.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said he couldn’t ignore the photo but defended his investigation. “Michael Phelps is truly an American hero … but even with his star status, he is still obligated to obey the laws of our state,” Lott said.

The photo showed Phelps smoking from a marijuana pipe at a party in November when he visited the University of South Carolina.

Earlier this month, through a spokesperson, Sheriff Lott sang a different tune:

“The bottom line is, if he broke the law, and he did it in Richland County, he’s going to be charged,” [spokesman Chris] Cowan said. “And there’s no difference between Michael Phelps and several other people that we arrest for the same type of a charge everyday.”

Perhaps Sheriff Lott was deterred by talk that going after Phelps would have constituted a selective prosecution?

A reader poll and the opportunity to comment, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bong Hits 4 Jesus Michael Phelps
(And no criminal charges, either.)”

gavel.jpg*Some important notes about Cyber-Bullying from David Lat. [Portfolio]

* Senator Schumer has recommended that Obama choose his chief counsel Preet Bharara as Manhattan’s next U.S. attorney. [The New York Times]

* In other New York news, the state senate confirmed Judge Johnathan Lippman to replace Judith Kaye as chief judge. [Newsday]

* South Africa’s high court ruled that South Africans living abroad should get the right to vote, which could affect likely president Jacob Zuma. [The Los Angeles Times]

* Monday we wrote about extraordinary rendition; yesterday the House and Senate introduced bills that would limit the President’s “state secrets” privilege. [The Boston Globe]

* A state-ordered suspension of jury trials in New Hampshire to save money during the recession could prevent justice from being served. [Bloomberg.com]

* A-rod may not be the only outed baseball star, the California 9th circuit court will soon decide whether the list of 104 players that tested positive for steroids in 2003, will be admissible in court. [MLB.com]

Michael Phelps pot marijuana bong.jpg* In case you are wondering, I’m in the foreground on the right in this artist’s depiction. [Courtoons]

* Are doctors now more hated than lawyers? That probably depends on how sick you are. [What About Clients?]

* Should you friend your boss on Facebook? [Corporette]

* It might be in poor taste, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s surgery was the opening bell on the Kagan v. Sotomayor steel cage match. [CQ Politics]

* Michael Phelps lost one of his sponsors, after being photographed smoking from what looked like a marijuana pipe. ESPN is doing 24/7 analysis about what this means for Phelps, kids, and America. I’m sure Katie Couric is going to get involved soon. Thank God I only smoke tobacco, drink alcohol and caffeine, eat red meat with lots of salt, take whatever Pfizer tells me I need, and gamble away all of my disposable income. A real role model follows the law! [Popsquire]

Last Tuesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that a cheerleader who allegedly failed to spot his teammate was immune from liability under a Wisconsin assumption-of-risk statute, which forbids bringing a claim against any amateur athlete who acts negligently while performing a sport. In reaching this conclusion, the court explained that competitive cheerleading was indeed a “sport” based on the American Heritage Dictionary‘s definition of that word: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs.”

Upon learning of this decision, one astute Above the Law reader asked if courts would similarly find cheerleading to be a sport under Title IX of the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act. This is an especially interesting question because some schools including the University of Maryland and Seton Hall University have granted varsity status to their disproportionately female cheerleading squads. Thus far, the Department of Education has not taken a stance on these particular schools’ Title IX compliance, nor has there been a test case in our court system.

After the jump, should cheerleaders count for Title IX purposes?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sports and the Law: Can Schools ‘Cheer’ Their Way into Title IX Compliance?”

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