NFL and Clubs Obtain Dismissal With Prejudice

Skadden persuaded a federal judge to reconsider a prior motion-to-dismiss ruling, thus securing full dismissal with prejudice of a complaint brought against the National Football League and all 32 National Football League clubs (collectively, the NFL) by professional photographers of NFL events. In July, Judge Robert Sweet of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the bulk of the plaintiffs' second amended complaint — which alleged copyright infringement and antitrust violations arising out of the NFL's royalty-free use of photographs through license agreements with co-defendant Associated Press (AP) — but concluded that the photographers still had a viable claim that their contracts with AP were unconscionable. In a joint motion with AP, Skadden argued that the court failed to recognize that, under New York law, unconscionable contracts could be ratified by performance. On December 23, Judge Sweet agreed, concluding that the allegations in the defendants' pleading left no doubt that the photographers ratified the agreements.