NFL players union loses Madden suit challenge

US appellate court affirms November jury verdict awarding $28.1M to retired players over royalty rates for football-related products.


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A group of retired NFL players have once again sacked the National Football League Players Association. In November, a jury awarded the 2,000-player group $28.1 million in damages stemming from the NFLPA's failure to keep the retired players' interests at heart in negotiating royalty rates for the use of the players' names and likenesses. The complaint covered games, trading cards, and other football-related products and specifically called out the NFLPA's alleged preferential treatment given to Madden NFL publisher Electronic Arts.

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Not taking the decision lying down, the NFLPA challenged the call on the grounds that only currently active NFL players were covered by the terms of its deals. Unfortunately for the NFLPA, the US District Court of Appeals for Northern California disagrees.

Bloomberg reports that a US appellate judge this week upheld the San Francisco jury's decision from November, affirming that the NFLPA violated the terms of its group licensing agreements and did not live up to its fiduciary duties for representing retired players. As a result of the decision, the NFLPA will be required to pay the $28.1 million previously set by the jury. About $7.1 million of the award was issued for compensation, with the remaining $21 million coming in the form of punitive damages for failing to protect the rights of its own members.

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