On this weeks Speaking of Justice broadcast, the Legal Broadcast Network is joined by nationally renown trial lawyer, Michael Hausfeld, discussing a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, clearing the way for Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA to proceed to trial, with a date set for June 9th. The judge looked at principal defenses the NCAA was raising in an attempt to excuse or justify the restraints the athletes claim are being imposed on them, says Michael Hausfeld, lead attorney for the plaintiff in this case.
The motions and Judge's opinion was directed at specific defenses such as the First Amendment defense and Title IX issues and she ruled on which ones survived and which ones didn't, Haufeld explains. "At this point, we have a better focus for purposes of the jury as to what real justifications may be considered by them in determining whether the restraints imposed aren't out-weighed by supposed pro-competitive benefits" stated Hausfeld.
Hausfeld believes the NLRB Northwestern ruling, which made huge news two weeks ago when the Northwestern football team were deemed employees in a preliminary hearing, helps his case because it focused as well on those factors which the NCAA was contending made the athletes a student, as opposed to an athlete first. The ruling, for the first time knocked down the "student athlete" definition that had been created by the NCAA in the 1950's specifically to avoid workers compensation claims for injuries. "Doing that exposed the vulnerabilities of the NCAA to legal challenge resulting in adverse rulings," he says.
The NCAA's First Amendment defense, which was a core of their argument to the judge, has essentially been eliminated and the opinion now raises the exposure of the broadcasters as well as the copyright rights of the NCAA itself, Hausfeld thinks. Attorney Hausfeld and the legal team are now preparing for a trial June 9th, which could possibly be a landmark decision in sports and entertainment law on a par with the Curt Flood and Andy Messerschmidt cases of the 1970's.
Michael Hausfeld is the lead attorney for Ed O'Bannon and practices in Washington, D.C. More information on is firm can be found here. His commentary is as a featured guest of the Legal Broadcast Network, an independent legal news platform providing online, on-demand legal video news content and which is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.