NCAA News Wire

O’Bannon lawyers seek $52 million from NCAA

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Lawyers for the playoffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA are seeking $52.4 million in attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs won a 5-year-old suit against the NCAA earlier this month. A judge had ruled that NCAA restrictions on compensation for major college football and men’s basketball players violate antitrust laws.

The suit was initiated by O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball star, because the NCAA does not allow athletes to profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses, especially from use in video games.

The plaintiffs, led by lawyer Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, are seeking attorneys’ fees of $46,856,319 and recoverable costs of $5,555,739 in a filing made Friday night.

The attorneys said in the motion that Hausfeld LLP supervised and coordinated the work of 43 law firms “who contributed resources to this landmark limitation in an effort to match the dozens of attorneys litigating on the NCAA’s behalf … as well as the hundreds of attorneys representing the NCAA’s member schools and conferences across the country. Each plaintiffs’ firm shared in the considerable risk of non-payment given the unique aspects of this litigation and the NCAA’s past success in attaining dismissal,” based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1984.

Hourly rates cited by the O’Bannon lawyers ranged from $985 for partners with more than 40 years of experience to $250 for the most junior associate.

“These historical rates are reasonable first because they are the standard rates charged by Plaintiffs’ counsel and comparable to the rates that the NCAA has paid for their own counsel in fiercely defending this litigation,” the lawyers wrote.

They cited other antitrust suits they were previously involved with that included similar rates approved by courts.

Hausfeld claimed his law firm has spent 29,874 hours working on the case since 2009 that totals $17,078,140 in billing based on historic hourly rates. Also, it claims $2,625,802 in expenses.

The rates used to calculate those figures “are the usual and customary hourly rates charged for each attorney or staff member’s services,” Hausfeld wrote.

The NCAA, which appealed the Aug. 8 ruling, has not revealed how much it has spent on litigating the case.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday set the initial briefing schedule, which runs through January 2015. If the appeal goes to oral arguments, that may not occur until late 2015 or early 2016.