Last week reportedly saw a federal judge in Indiana dismiss a class-action lawsuit that had been brought against daily fantasy sports operators DraftKings and FanDuel by a group of former collegiate American football players.
According to a report from Forbes, the case had been filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis at the beginning of the year and was seeking damages from FanDuel and DraftKings of $5 million.
The newspaper reported that the lawsuit, which was being led by former Indiana University football player Nicholas Stoner along with Northern Illinois University compatriots Akeem Daniels and Cameron Stingily, claimed that DraftKings and FanDuel had infringed upon the plaintiffs’ publicity rights because the pair had used their names and likenesses in daily fantasy sports contests without permission.
FanDuel and DraftKings agreed deals last month that saw each pay out over $1.3 million in order to resolve allegations that they had engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in Massachusetts prior to 2016 while they arranged similar $6 million settlements in New York a year ago.
In dismissing the case on September 29, federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt reportedly declared that the players’ athletic achievements and activities had been ‘newsworthy’, which had granted DraftKings and FanDuel an exemption to Indiana’s publicity rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Although the federal judge reportedly acknowledged that it had been a ‘close call’, she nevertheless compared collegiate athletics to professional sports and cited the 2014 case of Dryer v National Football League in Minnesota, which had ruled that ‘both professional baseball and professional football’ are ‘closely followed by a large segment of the public’.
Forbes reported that FanDuel and DraftKings stopped offering contests featuring college sports under a deal with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) signed in March of 2016 before explaining that last week’s ruling could be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago.