Tag: EA Sports


$60 million video game lawsuit settlement approved

Leave a comment

College athletes whose names, images and likenesses were used in video games distributed and published between May 2003 and September 2014 are one step closer to receiving their portion of a settlement agreed upon last year.

According to USA Today, US District Judge Claudia Wilken gave approval of the $60 million settlement, to which more than 20,000 college basketball and college football players have filed claims. For those who have yet to file a claim, they now have until July 31 to do so and current college athletes who may be impacted will not risk their eligibility by taking the settlement.

Judge Wilken still has to issue final written approval of the settlement, which would then trigger a 30-day period in which objections can be filed. If there are no objections, that would then begin the process of athletes receiving their portion of the settlement. According to the report Steve Berman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case, estimates that athletes who received maximum exposure (based in part upon how many years they played in college)  in the games could receive up to $7,200.

What also helps the athletes in regards to how much money they could see from this is Judge Wilken’s statement regarding legal costs and fees due to the attorneys.

Speaking after a hearing Wilken held in California, Steve Berman said the judge also agreed to extend the deadline for affected athletes to file a claim through July 31. Berman also said Wilken told the attorneys involved in the case that she might be inclined to reduce the costs and fees that they will be awarded to 30% of the settlement rather than 33%. That would increase the amount of money available to affected athletes.

EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) settled with the plaintiffs in the “Ed O’Bannon lawsuit” in September 2013, which left the NCAA as the lone remaining defendant in that case. Judge Wilken ruled in favor of the plaintiffs last summer, with the NCAA responding by filing an appeal that was heard in mid-March.

Earlier this week it was ruled that the NCAA would have to pay $46 million in legal fees as a result of the lawsuit.

Report: EA Sports, college athletes agree on settlement of $40 million

Ed O'Bannon Jr.

Video game manufacturer and NCAA licensing partner EA Sports has reached a $40 million settlement with college football and basketball players for improperly using the likenesses of athletes, according to a report from ESPN.com‘s Tom Farrey.

The settlement was reached with a federal court in Oakland, California on Friday night and it leaves the NCAA alone to defend itself in the upcoming antitrust trial spearheaded by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon.

The settlement could deliver up to $4,000 to as many as 100,000 current and former NCAA athletes who appeared in EA Sports college basketball and college football video games since 2003.

“I’m thrilled that for the first time in the history of college sports, athletes will get compensated for their performance,” said Steve Berman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs to Farrey. “It’s pretty groundbreaking.”

Berman represents former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and 77 percent of this latest proposed settlement would go to players represented by Berman. O’Bannon’s class of players would receive 12 percent of the settlement while former Rutgets football player Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston would receive the final 10 percent for their group of players.

O’Bannon, Keller, Hart, Alston and all other named plaintiffs will also receive payments between $2,500 and $15,000 for their time and efforts in representing the classes in the case.

The settlement still needs approval from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken, and if it is approved, the lawyers in the case will receive up to one-third of the settlement funds, or $13.2 million, plus a maximum of $2.5 million in legal fees.

If Wilken approves, former players in EA Sports video games since 2003 will be alerted to the availability of payments and will need to register to collect. Each player will use a formula based on how many years they appeared on rosters in EA Sports video games. Lawyers representing to plaintiffs estimate that there are approximately 140,000 to 200,000 annual roster appearances in all three classes.

Some current college athletes would also be due compensation under this proposed settlement and the legal outcome creates a new dilemma in the NCAA’s quest to keep athletes from profiting from the use of their images as athletes.

An agreement in principle happened last September through Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, but issues held up the proposed settlement. The NCAA objected to their co-defendants leaving and the lawyers representing the three different classes of players couldn’t agree on the financial aspect.

In September of 2013, EA Sports announced that it’s college football series would be placed on hiatus with no new game coming in 2014 while EA hasn’t made a college basketball video game since NCAA Basketball 2010.

This is a landmark settlement as college athletes look like they’ll finally claim some money for their NCAA likenesses appearing in video games and it sets up an interesting court battle between O’Bannon and the NCAA in the upcoming antitrust lawsuit that is scheduled to begin on June 9th.

Expected settlements leave NCAA as lone defendant in O’Bannon lawsuit (UPDATED)

1 Comment

And then there was one defendant remaining in the lawsuit against the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) filed by a number of former college athletes. On Thursday it was reported that EA Sports, which also announced that it will not produce its popular college football video game next season, and the CLC have settled all claims brought against them by the plaintiffs. According to the New York Times the entities will reportedly pay in upwards of $40 million to settle the case.

With this announcement more than 100,000 former athletes are expected to receive funds, with there still being questions as to whether or not the settlement will impact current student-athletes. Just as important in all of this is the fact that the NCAA is the lone remaining defendant in the lawsuit. So while today’s news may not qualify as a watershed moment for collegiate athletics, it means that we’re going to find out just how hard both sides of the suit are willing to fight to either force change of maintain the status quo.

The settlement also allows the legal representation of the plaintiffs to focus all of their efforts on battling the NCAA, which could result in their case becoming even stronger.

“We hold that the NCAA intentionally looked the other way while EA commercialized the likenesses of students, and it did so because it knew that EA’s financial success meant a bigger royalty check to the NCAA,” Steve Berman, lead attorney in the suit brought about by former Arizona State/Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, said in a statement.

“We are looking forward to presenting our case against the NCAA to a jury at trial,” Berman added. “We believe the facts will reveal a startling degree of complicity and profiteering on the backs of student athletes.”

The NCAA has entertained no such plans of settling, and why would they since what’s at stake means much more for the governing body of collegiate athletics than it does either of the other two defendants. According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today the NCAA has made moves to bolster its legal team, and they’re prepared to take the battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be.

In concert with the NCAA’s position, [NCAA chief legal officer Donald] Remy said the association has retained one new law firm for the purpose of trial and another to handle appeals. Asked whether the likely cost of such additions to the NCAA’s legal team had been approved by association governing panels involved with oversight of the NCAA’s finances, Remy said: “This strategy has been discussed by all appropriate bodies and endorsed. The membership supports this handling of the case.”

It’s rather obvious that we’re nowhere near having this lawsuit resolved, and there’s obviously a lot on the line. But what will the future of collegiate athletics be? Despite the scenarios thrown around by folks on both sides of the equation, it’s difficult to say that there’s a surefire answer at this point.