The NFL recently struck a deal to settle a lawsuit brought by former players regarding the use of their names and likenesses following the conclusion of their playing careers. The biggest impediment to the settlement of the class action came from the fact that the original plaintiffs, including defensive end turned actor Fred Dryer, opposed the settlement along with six other original named plaintiffs.
A federal judge granted preliminary approval to the settlement despite the objections. In so doing, Judge Paul Magnuson went mightier-than-the-sword against Dryer and the other plaintiffs who didn’t like the proposed deal primarily because of their own piece of the plaintiff pie.
“It bears repeating: the individuals who originally brought this lawsuit and who now oppose the settlement rode into Court on the banner of saving their downtrodden brethren, those who had played in the NFL yet today were penniless and, often, suffering from injuries or illnesses directly related to their playing days,” Judge Magnuson writes. “It is the height of disingenuousness for these same Plaintiffs to now complain, like children denied dessert, that the settlement does not benefit enough the individuals who brought the lawsuit.”
A hearing on the final approval of the settlement will be held on September 19, 2013. In the interim, all members of the class will have an opportunity to file their own objections to the proposed agreement, which “provides for a fund overseen by a panel of former player . . . that will distribute payments to assist former players and their families, and for a licensing agency to market former players’ publicity rights, with the blessing (and the use of some trademarks and copyrights) of the NFL.”
The efforts will be overseen by a group of players that includes Dryer’s former teammate with the Rams, Jim Youngblood. Also on the panel will be Jim Brown, Irv Cross, Billy Joe Dupree, Ron Mix, Darrell Thompson, and David Robinson.
Once a class action settlement receives the preliminary blessing of the presiding judge, the case usually settles according to the proposed deal. But the law requires i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed before the rights of people who haven’t joined the lawsuit are determined, even if few if any of those people will ever complain.