Judge certifies injunctive relief class of at least 184,000 NCAA athletes in historic NILs litigation
A judge today certified a class of at least 184,000 NCAA college athletes, allowing their claims to proceed in a historic antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA regarding payments for athletes’ name, image and likeness rights, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.
“We are exceedingly pleased with the court’s order in his monumental lawsuit on behalf of college athletes,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for the class. “We look forward to receiving the court’s review of the proposed damages classes in a separate order and will continue our fight for the rights of this class.”
The court’s Sept. 22, 2023 order grants class certification of the injunctive relief class, defined as all college athletes who compete on, competed on, or will compete on a Division I athletic team at any time between June 15, 2020 and the date of judgment in the case. The order from Judge Claudia Wilken also names Hagens Berman as co-lead class counsel for the class and appoints as class representatives Sedona Prince and Grant House.
“College athletes have been at the mercy of the NCAA’s draconian policies for far too long, earning the institution billions of dollars from their name, image and likeness,” Berman added. “The players make the game, and we think it’s high time that the rules prohibiting athletes from being paid by schools or conferences for use of their likeness are struck down, which is what the injunction will accomplish.”
In certifying the class, Judge Wilken wrote, “It is undisputed that the challenged NIL rules apply, and have applied in the past, in a uniform manner to all members of the Injunctive Relief Class.”
From Court to Courtroom
The antitrust lawsuit was originally filed June 15, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and accuses the NCAA and conferences of illegally conspiring to limit the compensation that Division I college athletes may receive for the use of their NILs and athletic reputations. The complaint says the entities violated federal antitrust laws in abiding by a particular subset of NCAA rules that prohibit college athletes from receiving anything of value in exchange for the commercial use of their NIL.
Hagens Berman’s amended complaint was filed July 26, 2021, and combined the law firm’s House v. NCAA case and an additional case into one consolidated action titled In re College Athlete NIL Litigation. The filing also added new admissions from the NCAA and other defendant representatives that allowing NIL profiting is good – a drastic change from their past statements that allowing so would ruin college sports.
In June 2021, the court upheld all of the claims brought in Hagens Berman’s case amid the NCAA’s motions to dismiss.
The lawsuit seeks to hold the NCAA accountable to college athletes via injunction and damages for the NCAA’s antitrust violations regulating the profits gained from the use of college athletes’ names, images and likenesses, specifically, through an injunction voiding rules prohibiting compensation to college athletes for use of their name, image and likeness.
The lawsuit also seeks damages based on payments college athletes would have received if not for the NCAA’s restraints. These revenues include social media earnings and revenues from group licenses. Attorneys for the class also seek a newly expanded class of damages: a class that will encompass all student-athletes who get any kind of NIL deal while many of the NCAA’s NIL rules have been temporarily suspended.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP has represented classes of college students before, initiating and leading the historic Alston case where we won a 9-0 win for college athletes, achieving a $208 million settlement against the NCAA concerning antitrust-related student scholarship limits, a combined $60 million settlement against Electronic Arts and the NCAA regarding player likeness rights in videogames, and an additional settlement valued at $75 million regarding concussions and safety protocols and a trial victory overturning NCAA rules limiting education based compensation. The firm’s sports litigation legal team also includes former NCAA athletes.
Hagens Berman is a global plaintiffs’ rights complex litigation law firm with a tenacious drive for achieving real results for those harmed by corporate negligence and fraud. Since its founding in 1993, the firm’s determination has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.