Sports in the Courts Blog

Sports in the Courts Blog

Commentary on the Intersection Between Sports and the Law

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Justice Demands More for the Sayreville Football Scandal

There is nothing good about what is going on in Sayreville.  We have allegations of systematic sexual abuse on students by their teammates.  We have victims of awful alleged offenses. ...

Why the Sayreville Board Had No Choice But to Sack Football

From recent media reports, we know that certain parents, players and fans are very angry and outraged that the Sayreville (NJ) Board of Education decided to cancel its football program ...

Fusco on ABC Action News in Tampa on NFL Fraud Case

Check out my interview on ABC News Tampa about NFL Player Brad Culpepper on allegations that he was involved in fraud with his worker's compensation case that was filed in ...

Will the NFL’s Painkiller Lawsuit Tackle the Assumption of the Risk Defense?

Check out my recent article for CLM's Claims Management Magazine on the players' lawsuit against the NFL involving alleged painkiller abuse and the dangers the case could pose for the assumption of the risk defense ...

Justice Demands More for the Sayreville Football Scandal

Posted in Sayreville, Uncategorized

There is nothing good about what is going on in Sayreville.  We have allegations of systematic sexual abuse on students by their teammates.  We have victims of awful alleged offenses.  We have potential serious offenders who now may have their educations, scholarships and futures permanently damaged.  Nothing good at all except that’s its stopped.

I am still extremely bothered that there has been no criminal action against the adults who were supposed be in charge and prevent this type of behavior in a public school. The only arrest and resignation so far is for the Assistant Football Coach, Charles Garcia, who got locked up for alleged possession of steroids.  I am somewhat hopeful that the prosecutor will be able to obtain incriminating evidence, if appropriate, against the adults who failed and that charges could be coming soon.  I don’t have enough facts about the alleged crimes to know if a plea deal is possible in exchange for testimony against member of the coaching staff.

The events in Sayreville, if true, never should have happened.  That’s why schools are staffed with “adults”.  There should have been no victims or criminals.  All the young lives of the Sayreville players should be intact. But that is not the case and the adults who should have stopped it must be punished.

Why the Sayreville Board Had No Choice But to Sack Football

Posted in Sayreville

From recent media reports, we know that certain parents, players and fans are very angry and outraged that the Sayreville (NJ) Board of Education decided to cancel its football program for the remainder of the season.  Many times a football or sports program can be a unifying factor in a community but from a legal liability standpoint, the Board simply had no choice.

What is being lost in the argument is that a public school acts “in loco parentis” with regard to students under our law.  This doctrine means that while a school has a student in its custody it must act in the best interest of the child.  If the Board knows that a criminal investigation has been commenced into sodomy allegations (in addition to harassment and bullying in it football program), it cannot place students back into that same situation.  A Board, charged with in loco parentis, cannot issue warnings of potential harm or take a “wait and see approach” to sidestep its enhanced responsibilities to protect student-athletes in its care.  It also doesn’t help that the Sayreville assistant football coach was just arrested for possession of steroids.

If a Board of Education in Sayreville (or another where else in public education) was made aware of alleged criminal conduct by students and others and did nothing to immediately stop the situation and another player was sodomized or harassed, the civil liability (and potential damages) could rock the foundations of the school district itself.  In protecting children, the Board had no choice.


Fusco on ABC Action News in Tampa on NFL Fraud Case

Posted in NFL, Survivor

Check out my interview on ABC News Tampa about NFL Player Brad Culpepper on allegations that he was involved in fraud with his worker’s compensation case that was filed in California.

The Clippers/Sterling Mess, So Whose Constitution Is It Anyway?

Posted in Clippers, NBA, Sterling

So now we learn that Donald Sterling’s lawyer, Maxwell Blecher, is stating that the Clippers’ owner will not pay the NBA’s record fine and has done nothing wrong.  In addition, Blecher asserted that the NBA has violated Sterling’s “due process rights”.   But what constitutional rights are we talking about anyway?

The US Constitution forbids a state actor (i.e. the police) from ignoring a person’s right to have fair notice and access to the courts to assert basic rights (i.e. pleading not guilty).  The US Constitution controls the government’s relationship with it citizens and their rights.  The NBA Constitution, however, is a very different legal document.

The NBA Constitution is a contract between the league and its owners (or governors).  The NBA Constitution does not afford elaborate due process rights to its owners, or an independent court system or appeals.  The only “right” afforded under the NBA Constitution requires Sterling to withstand a vote against him by 3/4 of the other owners.

So what are Sterling’s misplaced due process claims really all about?  When a lawyer senses a weak legal position there is always strategy of making a legal mess.  To make a big legal mess, a crafty lawyer can always try to throw in claims based on the real US Constitution.  Sterling is looking for a legal morass to slow down the NBA’s actions and frustrate any sale of the team.  The concept of “due process rights” is widely known and barely understood.  What a great way to make a mess.

So What if the Clippers’ Owner Claims a Technical Foul on the NBA?

Posted in Clippers, NBA, Sliver, Uncategorized

Yesterday, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver gave Clippers’ Owner Donald Sterling the equivalent of the NBA death penalty for Sterling’s disgraceful and repugnant racist comments.  There really is no question that the sanction, at this level, was not only necessary but required for the long-term health of the league.  However, on CBS This Morning, Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA player) Kevin Johnson believes that the embattled owner may sue the NBA over this decision and sanction.

So what could Sterling claim if he will not go away (as he should)?  First, I cannot imagine that an owner that will vote to keep Sterling around.  A vote in favor of the admitted racist would cause a team to lose its sponsors and create major issue with players and fans. No owner is going to cut his own throat to protect Sterling under these distasteful circumstances.

Sterling’s lawyers must be telling him if he wants to sue, the potential claims are that Commissioner Silver  (or the NBA) has no authority to force a sale and exceeded his authority in this sanction.  While we don’t know exactly what the secret NBA Constitution and By-laws provides, the reports are that a forced sale was designed for situations of financial instability of a franchise or game fixing. Sterling may claim that his statements do not fall into either of these categories (although if he remains as owner the Clippers would become a financial zombie franchise).

In addition, Sterling will allege that he received the ultimate sentence from the NBA which was too extreme and arbitrary and capricious. Silver could take the position that his distasteful views are not the same as fraud, gambling or a serious violent felony, and as such, the commissioner exceeded his authority.

If Sterling will not take his massive profit (and responsibility for his awful comments) from the sale of the Clipper and go away, he could remain a big problem for the NBA for the foreseeable future.

The Clippers Owner’s Words Puts the Commissioner on the Legal Hot Seat

Posted in Clippers, NBA, Sliver, Sterling, Uncategorized

Well, Adam Silver you wanted the NBA big chair.  Now you got it.

According to multiple reports, LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling allegedly made repugnant and hateful racist remarks about African-Americans to a former girlfriend.  These statement were caught on tape on put on TMZ’s website.

The LA Times called this more than a “one day story” and noted Sterling’s other claimed racist incidents and even lawsuits including the largest apartment rental discrimination case and settlement.

So if Sterling truly has  a pattern of racist remarks and offensive conduct, what is the newly minted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to do?  Do you remember Marge Schott?  When Schott was the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, she made racist and anti-semetic remarks on several occasions.  Major League Baseball actually took swift action to strip her of her ownership duties until she eventually sold the team. Here, the problem is we do not know Silver’s full authority to act under the confidential NBA Constitution.

If Silver is going to be a strong commissioner, he must act decisively and firmly now.  He should allow an investigation to drag on forever (really does it take that long for Silver to ask Sterling is he said those horrible things).  The NBA doesn’t need Sterling (if he made those statements) to apologize on Twitter or go cry to Dr. Phil, the NBA needs him out.  More importantly,  the new commissioner needs to be the one who does it.

Not Every Lesson Has To Be Learned The Hard Way, Mr. Kaepernick

Posted in 49ers, Kaepernick, Lakers, NFL, Steelers

Well, here we go again.  A star athlete, an unknown female, allegations of alcohol and drug use, a potential sexual assault and the resulting police investigation.  However, this time there are denials of  any wrongdoing by the star athlete, 49er’s Quarterback Colin Kaepernick on already posted on Twitter (who ever allowed him to write anything about this on the internet is a good subject for another post).

Whether its Kobe Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston or now Kaepernick, certain star athletes continue to fail accept two critical aspects of their celebrity status. First, they are targets, big rich ones. Second, they simply cannot make a bad choice with a stranger.  Let’s accept for the moment that Kaepernick is completely innocent of any sexual misconduct.  Given that assumption, he still left himself open to a very bad and unnecessary scene that is his fault.

If the star quarterback did drugs with a woman, he just met, and brought her back to his room, he was playing with fire.  The lesson that must be learned for these young and rich stars is that a bad choice can cost you everything in an instant.  You must respect yourself enough to protect what you have achieved and your future, even if that means hiring a bodyguard to make sure that strangers cannot get to you.  This may be a difficult and unfair way to live but downside alternatives are so much worse.

As crass as it sounds, no matter what happened here, was a potential one night stand worth the resulting police investigation for Kaepernick?  We  know that Kaepernick is looking for a $20 million pay day, the 49er’s want to make sure their QB is around to collect it.

What Happened to the Captains of ARod’s Legal Ship?

Posted in MLB, Uncategorized

So now a Florida federal grand jury may be investigating whether suspended Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, impeded a criminal investigation into his use of  illegal performance enhancing drugs as reported by The New York Daily News.

To its credit, The Daily News has been at the lead of reporting the ARod legal fiasco while other NY sports radio hosts were repeating the nonsense propaganda that we were supposed to believe.  Once again reports have surfaced that ARod is extremely  unhappy with his legal strategy (if you really want to stretch the meaning of that word) and wants deep discounts concerning the millions of dollars he allegedly owes his various lawyers. There have also been suggestions that ARod received advice on legal strategy from a person that runs a popular night club.

The problem is that ARod’s reliance on a night club worker for legal advise should not be story.  Assume, for the moment that’s all true, it doesn’t change a thing.  ARod had a prominent legal team who concocted a bizarre legal strategy that led straight to disaster. At no time did ARod’s celebrated lawyers quit before the ship sank.  In short, a bartender should not have taken control over the legal situation from a member of the bar.

Let’s be clear that there is no proceeding between ARod and his lawyers over a fee dispute.  At this point, we are left to wonder if the client mutiny  (if this is true) should have came before the legal ship hit ran aground.