Another former college athlete sues EA
by Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY Sports
Lawyers representing a former West Virginia running back have filed a proposed class-action suit against video game manufacturer Electronic Arts in federal court in New Jersey, alleging “blatant and unlawful” use of college athletes’ names and likenesses in its football and basketball games.
This lawsuit is similar to, but separate from, another proposed class-action case against EA that is proceeding in federal court in New Jersey on behalf of former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart. The Hart case already has been before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has returned it to the district court level.
The new matter is being pursued by Shawne Alston, who played for West Virginia from 2009 through 2012. His lawyers also are representing former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller in a suit related to video games against EA, the NCAA and the nation’s leading collegiate trademark licensing and marketing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co., that is now with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
One of the lawyers said Wednesday they filed the Alston case last week because of concerns about how Hart’s lawyers have defined their prospective class of plaintiffs.
“We think the class definition is too narrow and complicated,” Robert Carey said. “We want to make sure (all players with potential claims) are protected.”
In an added twist, Alston’s suit alleges that an avatar mirroring him in many ways not only appears in various versions of the game, it also appears on the back cover of the 2013 NCAA Football game for the Xbox. The complaint adds that the player in the primary image on the back cover, former Baylor and now Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, “was paid — after exhausting his collegiate eligibility and becoming a professional player — to appear on the back cover of the game. Plaintiff and the other students on the back cover were not paid for use of their likenesses, nor did they consent to the use.”
Carey said Alston’s legal team will seek to have its case consolidated with the Hart case. If permitted by the judge, this likely would not keep Hart’s case … [For more on Another former college athlete files lawsuit against EA, click here.]