Judge dismisses ex-IU player’s suit against DraftKings, FanDuel

A judge dismissed a lawsuit by a former Indiana University football player and two others ex-collegiate athletes who claimed daily online fantasy sports sites DraftKings and FanDuel impermissibly used their names, images and likenesses to market what they alleged was illegal gambling.

Former Hoosiers receiver Nick Stoner joined ex-University of Northern Illinois players Akeem Daniels and Cameron Stingily in suing the daily fantasy sports sites. They claimed DraftKings and FanDuel used their names and likenesses without their consent, and they sought damages under Indiana’s right-of-publicity statute.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Friday granted motions by DraftKings and FanDuel to dismiss the case in the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Under Indiana’s right of publicity statute, I.C. 32-36-1, the consent of a person is required, with certain exceptions, to use his or her name, voice, signature, photo, image, likeness, distinctive appearance, gestures or mannerisms during the person’s lifetime or for 100 years after his death.

While Pratt denied the motion to dismiss on the defendants’ First Amendment affirmative defense, she ruled that the right of publicity statute’s newsworthiness and public interest exceptions, and perhaps others, required dismissal.

“The Court has determined that at least two of the statutory exceptions to Ind. Code § 32-36-1-(a) apply, which removes Defendants’ conduct from coverage under Indiana’s right of publicity statute,” she wrote in Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily and Nicholas Stoner v. FanDuel, Inc., and DraftKings, Inc., 1:16-cv-1230.  

Indiana passed a law regulating daily fantasy sports in 2016.

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