Talent management group: Dismiss ex-football star’s lawsuit

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins - Associated Press

COLUMBUS (AP) — A federal lawsuit linking a talent management company to alleged improper use of ex-Ohio State athletes’ photos should be tossed out because there’s no evidence the company did anything wrong, according to a court filing.

IMG Worldwide, Inc. and related entities are also backing Ohio State’s request to have the lawsuit dismissed, saying the university is immune from such legal action, an IMG attorney said in the filing Monday.

The lawsuit “does not specifically allege that IMG did anything in connection with any alleged wrongdoing, or is about to do anything wrongful that should be prevented,” said Joseph Castrodale, a Cleveland lawyer representing IMG.

At issue is a lawsuit filed earlier this year by former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman against the university and naming IMG and Honda as co-defendants.

Among programs targeted by the complaint is a Honda-sponsored collection of 64 banners hung around Ohio Stadium featuring photos of former players, including Spielman.

The lawsuit accuses the university and the companies of “unjust and monopolistic behaviors” and asks for compensation above $75,000, as is typical in such complaints. It notes that Ohio State makes millions of dollars from merchandising programs involving former athletes.

Spielman’s class-action lawsuit wants the marketing programs stopped and the ex-athletes compensated.

The Honda contract was with IMG, according to the university. Honda has declined to comment.

Last month, the university asked federal judge Michael Watson to dismiss the lawsuit. Federal courts don’t have jurisdiction over the complaint and Spielman hasn’t met a legal burden required in such antitrust lawsuits, Ohio State said.

A message was left with Spielman’s attorney, who is expected to oppose IMG’s request.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press