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Electronic Arts agrees to settle class action brought by athletes

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 10, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - Electronic Arts Inc. agreed to settle a class action lawsuit against it alleging it violated student athletes' rights.

EA, the Collegiate Licensing Company and the National Collegiate Athletic Association denied the allegations but agreed to settle the class action lawsuits to avoid the expense and uncertainty of ongoing litigation.

EA has agreed to pay $40 million and the NCAA has agreed to pay $20 million to resolve the allegations.

Payments to qualifying class members will be determined on a case-by-case basis, according to the Sept. 3 settlement order.

The factors that will be taken into consideration include how many years the class member played and the way the player’s likeness was used in the NCAA video games, according to settlement documents.

Each class member will be designated a certain number of points, which will determine how much of the settlement fund he will be entitled to receive. If a class member does not qualify for any points, he will be entitled to receive $100.

All current and former student-athletes residing in the United States who competed on an NCAA Division I college or university men’s basketball team or on an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision men’s football team and whose images, likenesses and/or names allegedly have been included or could have been included in or used in connection with NCAA-branded videogames published or distributed from July 21, 2005 until Sept. 3 are eligible to be class members in the class action settlement.

All NCAA football and basketball players listed on the roster of a school whose team was included in an NCAA-branded video game originally published or distributed during the period May 4, 2003, to May 4, 2007, and May 5, 2007, through Sept. 3 and whose assigned jersey number appears on a virtual player in the software, or whose likeness was otherwise included in the software are also included as class members.

Class counsel will seek incentive payments for the class representatives and the amount of each payment, according to the settlement document.

Class counsel will seek payment of attorneys' fees not to exceed 33 percent and expenses not to exceed $2.5 million.

Edward O’Bannon and Samuel Keller filed separate class action lawsuits in 2009 claiming the defendants unlawfully required student athletes to sign away their publicity rights and then profited by using their names and likenesses in popular NCAA video games.

The plaintiffs are represented by Robert B. Carey, Leonard W. Aragon and Steven W. Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP; Stuart M. Paynter and Celeste H.G. Boyd of the Paynter Law Firm PLLC; Michael D. Hausfeld, Hilary K. Scherrer, Sathya S. Gosselin, Michael P. Lehmann and Arthur N. Bailey Jr. of Hausfeld LLP; Keith McKenna of the McKenna Law Firm LLC; and Dennis J. Drasco and Arthur M. Owens of Lum, Drasco & Positan LLC.

NCAA is represented by Juan Carlos Araneda and David P. Borovsky of Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson LLP ; Gregory L. Curtner, Frederick Richard Juckniess, Kimberly K. Kefalas, Jessica Anne Sprovtsoff, Rocky N. Unruh and Suzanne Wahl of Schiff Hardin LLP; Jason Alex Geller of Fisher & Phillips LLP; Raoul Dion Kennedy of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP; Kelly Max Klaus, Carolyn Hoecker Luedtke, Jeslyn A Miller, Glenn D. Pomerantz, Thane Rehn and Rohit K. Singla of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP; and Glen Robert Olson of Long & Levit LLP.

CLC is represented by Peter M. Boyle, William Howard Brewster, Christina E. Fahmy, Svetlana S. Gans, Gregory S. Gilchrist, Cindy Dawn Hanson, R. Charles Henn Jr., Constance K. Robinson and Sara M. Vanderhoff of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; Courtney Elizabeth Curtis of Gersh Derby LLP, Attorneys of Law; James C. Potepan of LeClairRyan LLP; Amber Melia Trincado of King & Spalding LLP; and Matthew S. Weiler of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

EA is represented by Steven A. Hirsch, Robert Adam Lauridsen, Robert James Slaughter, Matan Shacham and Robert Addy Van Nest of Keker & Van Nest LLP.

A fairness hearing is scheduled for May 14.

The case is assigned to District Judge Claudia Wilken.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number: 4:09-cv-01967

From Legal Newsline: Kyla Asbury can be reached at

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