Judge Richard Seeborg, United States District Court for the Northern District of California, issued a pivotal ruling in the case of Davis et al. v. Electronic Arts Inc., in which Thomas Whitelaw & Katz LLP’s client, a proposed class of approximately 6,000 retired NFL players, have sued the gaming company for use of their likenesses, without authorization, in the Madden NFL video game franchise. The lead plaintiffs include Tony Davis, former running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Vince Ferragamo, former quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, and Billy Joe DuPree, former tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) filed a motion to dismiss and a motion to strike under California's Anti-SLAPP statute, arguing that EA was entitled to use the former players' likenesses in its video games without compensation under California law and the First Amendment. The Court rejected EA's positions and held that the case could go forward. EA is represented by the law firm of Keker & Van Nest. Plaintiffs are represented by Thomas Whitelaw, an elite boutique litigation firm with offices in Irvine and San Francisco.
Matthew Meskell, the partner at Thomas Whitelaw who argued the case on behalf of the class of retired NFL players, said, “The Court’s ruling was well reasoned and articulate. In reaching this conclusion, the Court carefully weighed governing case law and the particular facts of the case.”
Brian Henri, another partner at Thomas Whitelaw representing the plaintiffs added, “This is a great ruling for retired NFL players.”
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