Update: EA Sports Takes a Knee, Settles Right to Publicity Suit by Collegiate Athletes

EA SportsIn our August 5 post, Former NCAA Athletes Still “In The Game” As Court Finds No First Amendment Immunity For EA Sports, we discussed a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling that allowed a suit against video game producer EA Sports, the NCAA, and Collegiate Licensing Company to proceed. The court held, 2-1, that the defendants could not assert a First Amendment defense to the state-based “right to publicity” claims.

The ruling, as well as the loss of backing by the NCAA and numerous college conferences, has now led EA Sports to not only drop its college football game from its product line, but also to settle the lawsuit. EA Sports, along with Collegiate Licensing Company, filed papers in the federal court in Oakland, California. The terms of the settlement remain confidential, but an ESPN report indicated that each athlete who is a member of the class of plaintiffs, including current NCAA players would receive “something substantive.”

According to the ESPN report, the NCAA was “not prepared to compromise on this case.”

As the Yogurt (Litigation) Churns: Judge Completes Reversal of Self in Labeling Class Action

ChobaniCross-posted at WLF’s Forbes.com contributor page

With new, strikingly similar class actions being filed seemingly every day, the litigation industry’s crusade against food and beverage companies for “fraudulent” or “misleading” labeling has almost become monotonous. Thankfully, the occasional mini-saga breaks the tedium. The latest involves the humble, though now ubiquitous, Greek yogurt, and a suit against producer Chobani. Kane v. Chobani has had many twists and turns, but with a ruling last week, the plot may be moving to a fulfilling denouement.

Good Enough for Kids. Before getting into the Kane saga, we must note a delicious irony. Contrary to the opinion of Ms. Kane and her unnamed (and unknowing) class of plaintiffs, the federal government is quite a fan of the protein-packed product. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in July that it will be purchasing Greek yogurt for schools participating in a federally assisted program that subsidizes school lunches.

Previous Developments. On July 12, Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh dismissed one of Ms. Kane’s claims but allowed the majority of her complaint to survive. Three days later, Judge Koh denied Kane’s preliminary injunction against Chobani’s sale of products with “evaporated cane juice” on the label. On July 25, she agreed to Chobani’s request to vacate the July 12 order. Then, on August 2, the judge ordered the disqualification of one of Kane’s expert witnesses, but refused to disqualify Kane’s lawyers.

September 19 Order. In last week’s decision, Judge Koh reexamined Kane’s claims that Chobani’s use of the term “evaporated cane juice” (ECJ), its “no sugar added” claims, and its “all-natural” label statements were false or misleading under California law. Continue reading “As the Yogurt (Litigation) Churns: Judge Completes Reversal of Self in Labeling Class Action”