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Week in Review

By Martha Nimmer

NHL Head Trauma Developments

Claiming that the National Hockey League (NHL, the league) "intentionally created, fostered and promoted a culture of extreme violence," nine former NHL players have filed a class action lawsuit against the league in Manhattan federal court. This is the second class action lawsuit against the NHL that seeks damages arising from the NHL's treatment of players and player head trauma. Last year in May, the family of New York Rangers player Derek Boogaard brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the league, claiming that the NHL was "responsible for the physical trauma and brain damage Boogaard sustained in six seasons as one of the league's top enforcers." Boogaard died in 2011 of an accidental overdose of prescription painkillers and alcohol.

Although both the NFL and NHL lawsuits raise similar claims of failure to warn players of the dangers of repeated head trauma, this latest NHL lawsuit sheds light on the "role of enforcers in the N.H.L." and the role of extreme, glorified violence in the sport: "through the sophisticated use of extreme violence as a commodity, from which the N.H.L. has generated billions of dollars, the N.H.L. has subjected and continues to subject its players to the imminent risk of head trauma and, as a result, devastating and long-term negative health consequences," the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs in the second suit are the former players Dan LaCouture, Dan Keczmer, Jack Carlson, Richard Brennan, Brad Maxwell, Michael Peluso, Tom Younghans, Allan Rourke, and Scott Bailey. In a 2011 interview, Peluso announced that he was suffering from concussion-related seizures and depression, and criticized the poor pension benefits and health insurance offered by the N.H.L. and the N.H.L. Players' Association. "There is no question in my mind that brain injuries and depression are linked," Peluso said.

The case will be heard by Judge Shira A. Scheindlin. Plaintiffs seek damages, including punitive damages, and equitable relief on behalf of a class of all former and current NHL players.



Katherine Heigl's Least Favorite Drugstore

Duane Reade may say that it is "New York City's favorite drugstore," but it is undeniable that actress Katherine Heigl does not consider herself one of the store's fans. On Wednesday, the former Grey's Anatomy star filed suit in Manhattan federal court against the pharmacy chain, alleging unfair competition and violations of the Lanham Act and New York civil rights law. The controversy stems from a photo tweeted by Duane Reade earlier this year, showing Heigl exiting the store, two Duane Reade shopping bags in tow. The tweet accompanying the photo read "Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can't resist shopping #NYC's favorite drugstore." The tweet has since been deleted.

At the heart of Heigl's lawsuit are claims that Duane Reade sought to "capitalize on [her] image by turning it into an ad for the company." After all, the lawsuit reasons, the primary purpose of the company's Twitter account is to advertise products: "[f]or example, on March 14, 2014, Defendant tweeted 'Crunch, crunch Munch! It's National Potato Chip Day! Enjoy!' followed by a link to an advertisement for Defendant's own 'DeLish' label food product." The lawsuit goes on to state that Heigl's attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to Duane Reade on March 19, 2014, but that the letter was ignored.

Heigl has asked for a jury trial, and is seeking compensatory, punitive and treble damages, in addition to attorney's fees.

Read the complaint here: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/0410_heiglsuit.pdf


The Boy Who Cried Defamation

Martin Scorsese's hit movie, "The Wolf of Wall Street", found itself at the center of a federal defamation lawsuit last month. Andrew Greene, who worked for the corrupt brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont depicted in the film, sued Paramount Pictures, claiming that he was the basis for the film's character Nicky "Rugrat" Koskoff. On Monday, Paramount went on the offensive, asking the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The studio, writes The Hollywood Reporter, also took the opportunity to draw attention Greene's less than stellar legal career; the plaintiff, the studio says, is an inactive member of the California State Bar and was "intimately involved in the pervasive fraud and corruption that characterized the Stratton Oakmont securities operation in the 1990s."

Despite these shots across the bow, Paramount is not arguing that the suit should be dismissed because "The Wolf of Wall Street" was substantially true; rather, the studio is arguing, "the lawsuit should fail because the film's portrayal of 'Nicky Koskoff' was not 'of and concerning' Greene." Rather, the Nicky Kosoff character was a "composite" of several less-than-upstanding individuals associated with the brokerage house. After all, "[t]he book did not have only one dishonest executive with a notable toupee," states Paramount's motion to dismiss, touching on "self-proclaimed Swiss-banking expert Gary Kaminsky" as one notable example. Additionally, if that argument does not prevail, Paramount believes that Greene's suit should be dismissed because the movie is "artistic and expresses the 'newsworthy' nature of financial fraud."

"The Wolf of Wall Street", starring Leonardo Dicaprio, tells the (wild) story of Jordan Belfort, founder of brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, which perfected and utilized a "pump-and-dump" securities scam in the 1990s until (spoiler alert!) being prosecuted by federal authorities.

Read the motion to dismiss here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/216889093/Wolf-Response


Mega Trouble for Megaupload

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has now added its name to the growing list of parties suing Megaupload and its eccentric founder, Kim Dotcom. On Thursday, Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony Music and Capitol Records filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk. This move comes three days after movie studios filed the same claims against the defendants.

The RIAA alleges that from 2005 until 2012, Megaupload "openly encourag[ed] users to upload" popular content files onto its servers, ultimately amassing a trove of millions of files. Until mid-2011, the complaint continues, Megaupload even paid users to engage in this infringement. The lawsuit claims that the defendants ultimately earned over $175 million in illegal profits, while causing more than "a half a billion dollars in harm" to the copyright owners. Included in the record labels' suit is an exhibit listing the infringed works, which include songs from Katy Perry, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, Kesha and others. Eighty-seven songs are listed in total, "putting theoretical maximum statutory damages at $13 million." "Alternatively," notes The Hollywood Reporter, "the plaintiffs seek actual damages and defendants' profits."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 12, 2014 9:53 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Minor League Baseball Players File Suit.

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