NFL Players File Antitrust Lawsuits

From the American Association for Justice News Brief of March 14, 20011:The Los Angeles Times (3/12, Farmer) reported that NFL players decertified their union on Friday, allowing “players to file antitrust lawsuits against the league, which could be barred from locking out those players.” Despite the move, NFL owners commenced “a lockout after midnight on the East Coast.” The former union, NFL Players Association now acts as “a voluntary trade association with no authority to negotiate for the players.” Three high profile “quarterbacks –Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Bees filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league in U.S. District Court to prevent a lockout. The players allege that the NFL conspired to deny their ability to market their services.” NFL Commissioner Roger said, “We believe that ultimately this is going to be negotiated at the negotiating table.” The two sides remain divided over financial disclosures, with players arguing that teams should share more of financial data with them.
The AP (3/13) said that nine players brought antitrust suits against the NFL, including “one college player headed for the pros.” The suits were filed in Minneapolis and “asked for a preliminary injunction to block a lockout, even before it went into effect.” When negotiations ended Friday, the lead federal negotiator believed that the two sides rained $185 million apart on a deal.
The Washington Post (3/12, Maske, Shipley) observes, “NFL players’ decision to dissolve their union Friday so they could file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL is as risky – and potentially rewarding – as a fake punt with the game on the line.” The move could lead to a ruling from either a federal court or the NLRB.” The NLRB could rule that decertifying the NFLPA is “sham” to give players an unfair bargaining advantage. However, if the NLRB lets the decertification stand, it will give players “a sudden edge.”
The Wall Street Journal (3/14, Futterman) adds that team owners stated that they have enough money to see them through a cancelled season, if the labor dispute lasts that long. Additionally, the NFL says that a recent ruling that prevents them from collecting $4 billion in television rights won’t affect their financials unless the dispute drags on into the 2012 seas. The executive director of the NFLPA claims that the cash stockpiling proves that NFL owners planned to lock out players. NFL officials countered that they were simply being responsible and planning for the worst.
The above news summaries are provided by John Badal, attorney for the Reading , Pennsylvania personal injury law firm of Liever , Hyman & Potter which limits their practice to medical malpractice, car, truck and motorcycle accidents, nursing home neglect and work injuries. Serving Berks , Schuylkill and surrounding counties for over 50 years. Although we do not handle anti-trust cases, we do share stories involving civil litigation and topics of common interest.

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