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Coyle v. University of Kentucky

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division

March 4, 2014

DAVID COYLE, individually and d/b/a TEAM COYLE PHOTOGRAPHY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY, et al., Defendants

Page 1015

For David Coyle, individually and, doing business as Team Coyle Photography, Plaintiff: David A. Cohen, Stephen Garrett Amato, W. Chapman Hopkins, LEAD ATTORNEYS, McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC - Lexington, Lexington, KY.

For University of Kentucky, University Athletics Committee of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, as successor in interest to the, - University of Kentucky Athletics Association, Eric N. Monday, individiually, Mitchell S. Barnhart, individually, Defendants: Stephen Lewis Barker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joshua Michael Salsburey, Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney PLLC, Lexington, KY; William Eugene Thro, LEAD ATTORNEY, University of Kentucky, Office of Legal Counsel, Lexington, KY.

For Paul Miller Ford, Inc., Defendant: Thomas Walcutt Miller, LEAD ATTORNEY, Miller, Griffin & Marks, P.S.C., Lexington, KY.

For University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union, Defendant: Bart L. Greenwald, LEAD ATTORNEY, Frost Brown Todd LLC - Louisville, Louisville, KY.

For Hands On Originals, Inc., Defendant: Jack A. Wheat, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stites & Harbison, PLLC - Louisville, Louisville, KY.

For Eric N. Monday, in his capacity as Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration of the University of Kentucky, Mitchell S. Barnhart, in his capacity as Director of Athletics of University of Kentucky, Official Defendants: Stephen Lewis Barker, LEAD ATTORNEY, Joshua Michael Salsburey, Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney PLLC, Lexington, KY; William Eugene Thro, LEAD ATTORNEY, University of Kentucky, Office of Legal Counsel, Lexington, KY.

OPINION

Page 1016

OPINION AND ORDER

KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on a motion to dismiss brought by four defendants in this case: the University of Kentucky, the University Athletics Committee of the University of Kentucky Board Of Trustees, Eric N. Monday, and Mitchell S. Barnhart. (DE 30). These four defendants (the " University defendants" ) contend that the claims brought against them are barred by sovereign immunity and must be dismissed. To the extent that Barnhart and Monday are sued in their individual capacities, they argue that the plaintiffs have failed to allege facts sufficient to sustain a claim against them. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the University defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

David Coyle is a professional photographer in Lexington, Kentucky who has taken photographs for the University of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky Athletics Association [1] since 1988. In his Complaint (DE 1) and Amended Complaint (DE 29), Coyle alleges that between 1988 and 2010 he entered into a series of varying contracts to photograph the University's varsity intercollegiate athletics teams. Although the terms of these contracts varied, Coyle's position is that he retained ownership of the copyrights to all the images he produced.

According to Coyle, the University defendants engaged in " a series of strategic partnerships" through which they used Coyle's photographs for various commercial activities. (DE 1, ¶ 27). Because Coyle claims to retain ownership of the copyrights, he alleges that such usage by the University defendants and other private defendants constitutes a violation of his exclusive rights under 17 U.S.C. § 106. He seeks a declaratory judgment that ...


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