With the originally scheduled start date to the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit right around the corner, the NCAA is still hard at work to convince Judge Claudia Wilken to delay the start of the job. According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the defendants filed a motion to have the start of the suit delayed until February 2015.
If the request were granted that would allow the NCAA to not only use the extra time to strengthen its position, but also try the suit at the same time as the Sam Keller lawsuit.
This latest development comes a week after a three-member panel denied the NCAA’s request to fight Wilken’s decision to grant the plaintiffs class-action certification. However there is an issue with the NCAA’s most recent move, as Berkowitz notes that the motion is “largely based on a legal argument that Wilken seemed to reject during a hearing last Thursday.”
Most critically for the purpose of Tuesday’s filing, the Keller case involves a monetary damages claim and would involve a jury while the O’Bannon case has been narrowed to a bid for an injunction that will be decided Wilken. The NCAA is arguing that elements of the O’Bannon case related to video games will have to be heard by the jury in the Keller case, so a ruling that Wilken makes in the O’Bannon case could affect how a jury rules in Keller case. That, claims the NCAA, would result in a violation of its Seventh Amendment right to an un-encumbered jury hearing of its case.
The NCAA is pursuing this line of argument so vigorously that its Tuesday filing did not even address its prior request that Wilken either sever all evidence and claims related to video games from the O’Bannon case or delay it.
While the Keller lawsuit focuses solely on the use of player likenesses in video games, the O’Bannon suit deals with all aspects of the uses of player likenesses. So there are differences in the two cases despite their being grouped together in many circles. For that reason the O’Bannon plaintiffs would like to keep the suits separate from a timing standpoint, and to this point the rulings made by Judge Wilken have been in their favor.
Proceedings in the O’Bannon suit are scheduled to begin on June 9, and given the NCAA’s success rate in the filing of prior motions that may remain the case.