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Sports-Related Class Actions: Navigating the Minefield of Class Certification and Federal Labor Laws

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, November 15, 2018

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will discuss the recent trend of sports-related class action cases, including class certification issues, judicial trends, and federal labor laws.


A new phenomenon in the sports law arena has emerged. Running the gamut from improper drug dispensing to traumatic brain injury to publicity rights, class actions have become a popular vehicle over the last decade for litigating sports-related claims.

Sports-injury statistics and emerging research partly explain this boom. For example, with an estimated 300,000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries—predominantly concussions—occurring annually in the United States, sports are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury among people aged 15 to 24 years.

While decades of scientific and medical research has existed linking repetitive brain trauma to long-term neurological problems, research from some of the world’s most prestigious research centers and universities continues to bring new information to light. As a result, class action litigation has sprung up around the country in collegiate and professional sports, even trickling into high school and youth level athletics. Also, plaintiffs are filing these lawsuits across many different sports, including football, hockey, and soccer, among others.

Prominent in many of these sports-related class actions is the common defense that a collective bargaining agreement between players and the league, and its internal grievance procedures, govern the plaintiffs’ claims, and therefore federal labor law preempts state law claims. Due to this, litigators must be prepared to handle complex labor law issues.

Additionally, for a sports-injury case to proceed as a class action, specific initial requirements must be met, such as whether common issues of law and fact predominate over individual issues. Class certification, generally, can be challenging because of this requirement, and this is especially true in cases that concern personal injuries, causation and damages.

Listen as our distinguished panel discusses the hurdles associated with some of these lawsuits. Attorneys practicing in this field must have a firm grasp on the specific challenges that sports-injury class action litigation presents, as well as recent judicial trends and the interplay of federal labor laws.



  1. Impact of federal labor law on sports-related class actions
  2. Recent class certification decisions in sports-related class actions
  3. Various goals of litigation
    1. Forcing rule changes
    2. Funding for research on concussions and brain injuries
    3. Compensation to injured players
  4. Best practices for class counsel in representing clients through all stages of litigation


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • How have courts recently addressed the intersection between federal labor laws and sports-related class actions?
  • What are the typical class certification issues associated with sports-related class actions and how have courts recently addressed those issues?
  • How do judges view and encourage settlement of these claims?
  • What are the unique hurdles for counsel to overcome when litigating sports-related class action claims?


Davidson, Stuart
Stuart A. Davidson

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

Mr. Davidson’s practice focuses on complex consumer class actions, including cases involving deceptive and unfair...  |  Read More

Stute, Will
Will F. Stute


Mr. Stute has significant first-chair trial experience in state and federal courts around the country and in a variety...  |  Read More

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