It appears as though the NCAA student-athlete name and likeness litigation case is heading to trial after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken denied the NCAA’s motion for summary judgment.
Last November the former student-athletes (“Plaintiffs”) filed the instant motion for summary judgment against the NCAA (“Defendant”). The NCAA then cross-moved for summary judgment just one month later. On April 11, 2014 Judge Wilken ruled on the four following motions:
I. Motions for Summary Judgment
The Plaintiffs’ explained to the court that the NCAA prevents Division I schools from offering recruits a portion of the revenue received from their football and basketball related broadcasting and videogame licenses. Plaintiffs allege that the student-athletes are harmed by this restriction because it prevents the student-athletes from receiving compensation that they would normally receive in an unrestrained market. Judge Wilken ruled that, “because Plaintiffs’ evidence supports an inference that this restraint has an anticompetitive effect on the “college education” market, it is sufficient to satisfy their initial summary judgment burden.” Several other issues were argued back and forth between the Plaintiffs and the NCAA, but Judge Wilken ruled to grant and deny in part the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and completely deny the Defendant’s cross-motion for summary judgment. The judge also stated, “Plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment that the NCAA’s fourth asserted [procompetitive] justification for the challenged restraint — increased support for women’s sports and less prominent men’s sports — is not legitimately procompetitive. Accordingly, the NCAA may not rely on this justification at trial.”
II. Motion to Amend the Class Definition
Judge Wilken granted the Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the class definition to read as follows: All current and former student-athletes residing in the United States who compete on, or competed on, an NCAA Division I (formerly known as “University Division” before 1973) college or university men’s basketball team or on an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A until 2006) men’s football team and whose images, likenesses and/or names may be, or have been, included or could have been included (by virtue of their appearance in a team roster) in game footage or in videogames licensed or sold by Defendants, their co-conspirators, or their licensees.”
III. Motion for Leave to File a Motion for Reconsideration
Plaintiffs sought to file a motion for reconsideration of part of the November 2013 class certification order. Judge Wilken stated that the material facts the Plaintiffs presented did not justify reconsideration of the prior order. “Thus, because Plaintiffs have failed to identify any evidence or case law that would justify reconsideration of the class certification order, their motion must be denied.”
A final pretrial conference is set for the end of May and a jury trial will begin on the morning of June 9th. In the joint pretrial statement, Judge Wilken ordered the Plaintiffs to identify which Antitrust Plaintiffs intend to proceed to trial on their individual damages claims and which specific uses of their names, images, and likenesses will serve as the basis for their damages claims.