$40 million EA settlement looks complex
by Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY Sports
The settlement that on Thursday ended two companies’ involvement in lawsuits relating to the use of college athletes names and likenesses will total $40 million. But the athletes covered by the deal will see millions less than that — and though tens of thousands of athletes may be eligible for compensation it is possible they will not be compensated equally, lawyers for the plaintiffs told USA TODAY Sports on Friday.
Michael Hausfeld, who has been involved with the case primarily on behalf of plaintiffs led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, confirmed a report made first Friday by The New York Times that video game manufacturer Electronic Arts and the nation’s leading collegiate trademark licensing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co., have agreed to pay $40 million under an arrangement that — if approved by various courts — will conclude three cases against EA and both companies’ role in a fourth case that will continue with the NCAA as the sole defendant.
Hausfeld told USA TODAY Sports that attorneys’ fees and expenses for the plaintiffs’ side, as approved by the courts, will be deducted from that amount. With these types of presumptive class-action suits, it is typical for fees and expenses to be at least 20% of the settlement amount – which in this case would be $8 million. While some of the plaintiffs’ lawyers have been relatively new to these cases, other firms have been working through the cases’ complexities for as long as almost 4½ years; so, the total here may be well over $8 million.
The money headed toward claimants will be spread across a complex matrix of Bowl Subdivision football players and Division I men’s basketball players from as far back as 2003.
For example, because of the legal setup and statute of limitations in the case filed on behalf of former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart in New Jersey in October 2009 by lawyer Tim McIlwain, players who were depicted as avatars in video games as long ago as 2003 and 2004 presumably will be eligible for compensation.
However, a much wider range of players presumably will be covered by … [For more on Distributing $40 million EA settlement looks complex, click here.]