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In Case You Haven’t (But of Course You Have) Heard… About all the Sports Scandals?

by Rebekah Smith

Perhaps my brain just works a little differently than other people… or perhaps I just have work so constantly on the brain that whenever I hear sensational news stories, my mind always tries to make a connection to economic damage calculations.

For example, two notable scandal stories lately had my brain whirling, contemplating what, if any, damages people could claim from these sports stars.

The almost unbelievable story about the Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o made me wonder, if it turned out he was part of the hoax, who was wronged and who could sue?  More importantly, how would they prove or recover damages.  After quite a bit of debate (internally), I think I’ve concluded that there wasn’t a lot of financial harm done to anyone because of the hoax.  Perhaps if Notre Dame lost a significant donor to the university because they did not want to be associated with the organization, then maybe.  On the flip side, if Te’o can prove that he wasn’t in on the hoax perhaps he may have a claim against the hoaxer.  If Te’o’s NFL draft stock falls because of this event, perhaps his damages could run into the millions of dollars.  Given his performance in the BSC title game, a change in draft status has more than one potential cause, but it would be interesting if this turns into a potential damage claim. 

On the other hand, Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah will surely bring – and already has brought – about some lawsuits with people seeking damages from Armstrong.  Including…

  • The government of South Australia said that it will seek compensation in the form of repayment of several million dollars in appearance fees paid to Armstrong for competing in the Tour Down Under cycle race in 2009, 2010 and 2011. 
  • Armstrong will likely be required to pay back $4 million in prize money he earned for his Tour de France victories. 
  • Lance was also sued by SCA Promotions, a company that paid him performance bonuses tied to his cycling victories.  The suit is seeking $12 million in damages, claiming fraud.
  • A class-action lawsuit has been filed by those who bought his books claiming that they feel cheated by Armstrong.

The last claim, assuming that for legal purposes is a valid claim, could lead to a lot of other people asking for damages… Those who bought his jerseys? Or contributed to his foundation?  One thing is for sure, this isn’t over yet.

What do you think about the Te’o scandal? What do you think about the type of suits being brought against Lance Armstrong?  What about the damages being claimed?

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