Frivolous Sports-Related Lawsuits

One of the “fun” parts of studying tort law is to look at frivolous lawsuits.  Frivolous lawsuits lack legal merit and are almost always quickly dismissed by a judge.  If a lawyer files such a lawsuit on behalf of a client, the lawyer will likely be sanctioned by the judge and fined.  For that reason, the majority of frivolous lawsuits are filed pro se.  “Pro se” is a Latin legal term that means “on one’s own behalf.”  In the course of reviewing my personal sports law library, it was a challenge to label a single case as the most frivolous.  But I persevered.  See below:


There is a link in the news article to the actual (handwritten) complaint filed by a South Carolina inmate against Michael Vick.  Look at the plaintiff’s last name.  He is in jail for wire fraud.  Funny. 


Take a look at the pictures and decide for yourself.  Also note the six inch height difference.  The following quote by the plaintiff is classic:

“Even when I go to the gym I’m being accused of playing ball like him (Jordan),” said Heckard.

Syllabus Update/Reminder

Given that we were able to get through all of Chapter Two (Sports Contracts) last night, we will begin Chapter Three (Sports Torts) next week.  Read the entire chapter.  The chapter is only 22 pages long, but the material is difficult and there are two separate cases to read (although one is quite short).  Below is a glance at the next four class meetings:

Sept. 18 – Begin, and possibly finish, Chapter Three (Sports Torts).

Sept. 25 – If needed, finish Chapter Three (Sports Torts).  Begin Chapter Four (Sports Crimes).

Oct. 2 – Finish Chapter Four (Sports Crimes).

Oct. 9 – Mid-term Exam.

University of Colorado Football

On September 6, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit revived a lawsuit against the University of Colorado by two women who allege they were sexually assaulted at a football recruiting party.  Among other things, the court found that “CU had an official policy of showing high school football recruits a ‘good time’ on their visits to the CU campus.”  In reversing the grant of summary judgment to CU, the cout remanded to the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

The entire opinion is at the link below:

Lecture Outline – September 11, 2007

I. Introduction

A. Quiz Review

B. Grading System Explanation

C. Hypothetical Exam Question

D. Sports Agents Review

II. Five Elements of an Enforceable Contract

A. Offer

B. Acceptance

C. Consideration

D. Legal Purpose

E. Capacity to Contract

III. Types of Sports Contracts

A. Team Playing Contracts

B. Endorsement Agreements

C. Licensing Agreements

D. Appearance Agreements

E. Employment Contracts

F. Letter of Intent/Scholarship Agreements

G. Health Club Contracts

IV. Contract Drafting and Negotiation

A. Three “P’s” of Contract Drafting

B. Major Parts of a Contract

V. Damages and Remedies if Something Goes Wrong

A. Specific Performance

B. Compensatory Damages

C. Consequential Damages

D. Liquidated Damages

E. Punitive Damages

F. Duty to Mitigate Damages

VI. SBJ Endorsement Agreement Handout

A. What was Michael Jordan’s claim against MCI?

B. How did MCI defend?

C. How did the court rule?

D. What do the authors advise?

VII. Vanderbilt v. DiNardo?

A. Why did Vanderbilt sue Coach DiNardo?

B. What happened at the trial court level?

C. What did the Court of Appeals agree/disagree with?

D. What were the reciprocal liquidated damages clauses?

E. What was Coach DiNardo’s mistake in signing the addendum?

F. What is the relevance of the chronology?

G. What were Coach DiNardo’s three claims on appeal?

H. What did the concurrence/dissent by Judge Nelson say?

I. What did the concurrence/dissent by Judge Clay say?


As I mentioned in class last week, there is a federal law on the books pertaining to the regulation of sports agents.  It is called the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act of 2004 (“SPARTA”).  SPARTA authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to issue injunctions and/or penalities upon the finding of fraudulent or deceptiive practices by a sports agent.  To date, I am not aware of any action by the FTC under SPARTA.  If you are interested in the Congressional testimony in connection with SPARTA (or need something to help you fall asleep), click on the link below.  Tom Osborne, former football coach of the Nebraska Conhuskers, provides some testimony.  

Prequel to U.S. v. Walters

A couple of students have asked me about the “other” Norby Walters sports agent case mentioned in the textbook.  Before Mr. Walters was involved in U.S. v. Walters, he was a party in civil lawsuit, Walters & Bloom v. Fullwood, 675 F.Supp. 155 (SDNY 1987).  In that case, the judge ruled that the player agent contract Mr. Walters and Mr. Bloom were trying to enforce was entirely unenforceable as an illegal contract under New York law.