In an opinion this week, the Second Circuit upheld Judge Rakoff’s ruling that Major League Baseball’s sign-stealing scandals did not give rise to a right to sue the league or the offending teams:

At its core, this action is nothing more than claims brought by disgruntled fantasy sports participants, unhappy with the effect that cheating in MLB games may have had on their level of success in fantasy sports contests. We hold that alleged misrepresentations or omissions by organizers and participants in major league sports about the competition itself—such as statements about performance, team strategy, or rules violations—do not give rise to plausible claims sounding in fraud or related legal theories brought by consumers of a fantasy sports competition who are utilizing a league’s player statistics.

More specifically, among other pleading defects, plaintiffs have not plausibly alleged . . . actual or reasonable reliance upon the alleged fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations about player performance and electronic sign-stealing. Apart from actual reliance, no consumer of fantasy baseball competitions could plausibly allege that, in paying to participate in the competition, they reasonably relied upon these statements in believing that the sport of major league baseball was free from intentional violations of league rules by teams and/or individual players. Instead, any reasonable spectator or consumer of sports competitions—including participants in fantasy sports contests based upon such sporting events—is undoubtedly aware that cheating is, unfortunately, part of sports and is one of many unknown variables that can affect player performance and statistics on any given day, and over time.

Continue Reading Second Circuit: Fantasy Sports Contestants Cannot Sue Over Baseball Cheating Scandals

Last Thursday, Judge Caproni rejected a proposed joint scheduling order that provided for a party’s brief to be due on a Monday, citing her policy to set deadlines for the end of the week to avoid making associates work over the weekend.  Specifically, Judge Caproni said:

The Court recognizes that Defendants requested that their reply brief be due on Monday, May 16, 2022.  To avoid associates working on the weekends, the Court’s policy is to set deadlines towards the end of the week.

(Hat Tip: Elliot Stein of Bloomberg via Twitter)

In an opinion Friday, Judge Kaplan denied a motion by former President Donald Trump to amend his answer to add a counterclaim against the plaintiff, E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of defamation based on his public statements alleging that she fabricated sexual assault allegations against him (see our prior coverage here).

The proposed counterclaim would have sought attorney fees and other relief under New York’s anti-SLAPP law. Judge Kaplan found that the counterclaim was futile, but went further to emphasize that the counterclaim was part of a larger pattern of stalling, including: evading service; pursuing  “frivolous motions practice”; seeking a stay in favor of another case, even though Trump previously argued the other case was unrelated; and, finally, attempting to have the Attorney General intervene.

Judge Kaplan found these tactics to be improper: Continue Reading Judge Kaplan Harshly Criticizes Donald Trump’s Delay Tactics in Defamation Case, Refuses Proposed Counterclaim Amendment

Judge McMahon issued a memo today to the parties scheduled for a forthcoming civil trial, and the memo sets forth various rules reflecting her efforts to keep trials running efficiently.

Highlights of the memo include: Continue Reading Judge McMahon’s Trial Memo: Argue Objections In “25 Words or Less” And Other Guidance

In the long-running defamation case brought by Sarah Palin against the New York Times (see our prior coverage here), Judge Rakoff issued an opinion yesterday explaining his ruling from the bench granting judgment as a matter of law to the Times. The ruling was announced orally to counsel at the close of trial, before the jury returned its verdict. The jury subsequently ruled in the Times’ favor, as well.

The central issue in the case was whether the Times acted with “actual malice” when it issued an editorial erroneously suggesting that the actions of Palin’s political action committee – using “stylized cross hairs” over the districts of several members of Congress in online materials – was responsible for the “political incitement” of Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and wounded many others, including Representative Gabby Giffords, in a 2011 mass shooting.

Judge Rakoff found that the author, James Bennet, did not act with actual malice because, among other things, he was so quick to direct that the matter be corrected the morning after the editorial was published: Continue Reading Judge Rakoff: It Would “Chill Protected Speech” To Hold NY Times Liable for Careless, Quickly-Corrected Editorial About Sarah Palin

Last week, Judge Liman granted in part plaintiff ChromaDex’s motion for summary judgment on part of defendant Elysium’s counterclaim for false advertising under the Lanham Act. The case arose from a dispute between the two competitors over the sale of nutritional products claiming to improve cellular health and cellular aging. Elysium argued that statements made by a blogger regarding ChromaDex’s product were false, and should be attributable to ChromaDex under the Lanham Act, because the blogger was a ChromaDex shareholder who was paid by ChromaDex for referring customers. ChromaDex argued that it was not liable for statements that appeared on a third-party blog, regardless of whether they were false, material, or caused injury, because the statements did not constitute “advertising or promotion,” as required under the Lanham Act.

Judge Liman agreed with ChromaDex, finding that Elysium had not presented evidence that ChromaDex had an agency relationship with Shelly Albaum, the blogger. Furthermore, Judge Liman found that Elysium had not presented evidence that ChromaDex controlled the content of Albaum’s blog. Elysium cited to an email between a ChromaDex executive (Jaksch) and Albaum regarding whether the executive wanted Albaum to post a certain article. Judge Liman concluded: Continue Reading Judge Liman: Blogger-Shareholder Touting a Company’s Product Was Not Its Agent for Purposes of Lanham Act

It is rare for a judge to express views on the merits of a case ahead of a trial, but last week Judge Engelmayer did so, apparently at the urging of the parties who both thought that it would foster settlement. The views were set forth in an Order last week denying summary judgment in a case over escrowed funds following a corporate acquisition (see an earlier ruling here with more background). In the Order, Judge Engelmayer “took note of counsels’ observation that their attempts to resolve this matter would be assisted by some guidance from the Court as to its present assessment of certain issues in the case.”

Accordingly, ahead of a forthcoming bench trial, Judge Engelmayer essentially foreshadowed that the buyer had a strong case that the seller breached a particular warranty in the deal documents, but some risk associated with its associated theory of damages: Continue Reading Judge Engelmayer Shows Willingness to Preliminarily Assess Contract Dispute, to Help Foster Settlement

In a new putative class action complaint filed today, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores accuses the NFL of racial discrimination in hiring. One aspect of the allegations concerns the “Rooney Rule,” by which teams are supposed to interview at least one diverse candidate when coaching and management vacancies arise. Continue Reading Complaint: Bill Belichik’s Text to the Wrong “Brian” Proves Giants Engaged in “Sham” Interview of Black Coaching Prospect

In a complaint filed Tuesday, a non-profit organization and a pastor from the South Bronx sued N.Y. AG Letitia James, alleging that New York’s rules governing the unauthorized practice of law (“UPL”) prevent them from advising low income clients facing debt collection lawsuits, in violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights.  The non-profit organization plans to train non-lawyers to provide “reliable, free, straightforward, and narrowly circumscribed” advice to low income New Yorkers facing debt collection lawsuits “on a strictly non-commercial basis to ensure that defendants can understand their rights and respond to the debt collection lawsuits against them.”  However, New York’s UPL rules make it a crime and civilly sanctionable to engage in, solicit, or aid in the provision of legal advice by non-lawyers. Continue Reading Complaint: New York’s Rules on Unauthorized Practice of Law Violate Non-Profit’s First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights

In an opinion Friday, Judge Cote concluded that a trade secret holder’s accidental revelation of trade secret information to a competitor, in connection with due diligence for a possible transaction, could not constitute the competitor’s acquisition of the information by “improper means,” as required to prevail on a misappropriation claim. The plaintiff, TransPerfect, argued that the defendants used information learned during the diligence process to poach TransPerfect’s clients.

While Judge Cote agreed that certain information TransPerfect had shared with the defendants constituted trade secrets, she found that TransPerfect had failed to adduce evidence that defendants acquired the information by improper means, as required under the Defend Trade Secrets Act: Continue Reading Judge Cote: Acquiring Trade Secrets Accidentally Produced In Deal Diligence Is Not Acquisition by “Improper Means”