Blog Entry

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

Posted on: May 16, 2011 8:20 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One of the factors used by the Eighth Circuit of Appeals in rendering its decision to permanently stay the lockout injunction today was the issue that District Court Judge Susan Nelson, who ended the lockout with the injunction, believed the players were the ones who were harmed the most.
NFL Labor

The appeals court could see both sides of the equation. It understood that the owners feel they’ll be harmed by the injunction because maintaining the lockout is key to their negotiating strategy against the players and the loss of leverage really hurts their cause – not to mention that opening up free agency would be harmful if the lockout is put back into place (the old “unscrambling the egg” analogy).

It also could sympathize with the players’ position in which they said they are being harmed by not being allowed to practice, learn their playbooks, work out at the team facilities, and take treatment by the team’s medical staffs – not to mention the 900 free agents whose employment status is up in the air.

Here’s how the majority opinion and the dissenting opinion felt about the issue of irreparable harm and which party – the owners or the players – were the ones being hurt the most.

Here are the opinions of Judges Steven Colloton and Duane Benton:

Both sides raise valid points, and this is a case in which one party or the other likely will suffer some degree of irreparable harm no matter how this court resolves the motion for a stay pending appeal. We do not agree, however, with the district court’s apparent view that the balance of the equities tilts heavily in favor of the Players. The district court gave little or no weight to the harm caused to the League by an injunction issued in the midst of an ongoing dispute over terms and conditions of employment. The court found irreparable harm to the Players because the lockout prevents free agents from negotiating contracts with any team, but gave no weight to harm that would be caused to the League by player transactions that would occur only with an injunction against the lockout. The court gave full weight to affidavit evidence submitted by the Players, although that proof was untested by cross-examination at a hearing. The district court’s analysis was conducted without the benefit of knowledge that this appeal will be submitted for decision on a highly expedited schedule – a circumstance that should minimize harm to the Players during the off-season and allow the case to be resolved well before the scheduled beginning of the 2011 season.

Here’s how the dissenting opinion saw the issue:

The irreparable harm alleged by the NFL “must be actual and not theoretical.” Moreover, the NFL cannot meet its burden if it demonstrates only economic loss, unless “the loss threatens the very existence of the [NFL’s] business,” because “economic loss does not, in and of itself, constitute irreparable harm."
Judge Kermit Bye also took issue with the NFL’s contention that the injunction harms the owners because it skews the advantage in collective bargain toward the players, writing, “Given that the parties will not likely return to the bargaining table prior to our resolution of this expedited appeal, at which point we will determine whether the district court properly enjoined the lockout, the NFL’s claim that it will suffer a loss of bargaining power in this interim period does not amount to ‘proof indicating that the harm is certain to occur in the near future’ for purposes of a stay pending appeal.”

And as far as who will suffer more harm – the players or the owners? Bye sided with the NFLPA:

Whatever harm may be said to befall the NFL during the pendency of the expedited appeal stands in stark contrast to the irreparable harm suffered by the Players. Regardless of the preclusion of free agency effectuated under the lockout and its influence on the Players, there can be little dispute that the off-season is an abundantly busy period for veterans and rookies alike. Even the brief stay occasioned during this expedited appeal will deprive the Players of “irreplaceable opportunities to develop their skills as football players and to otherwise advance their NFL careers.” … It follows that even the abbreviated harm fashioned by the stay will obviate the Players’  opportunities to engage in any of these off-season necessities, which could have dramatic repercussions to the Players’ careers in the long term.

Further, none of this harm can be adequately compensated by monetary damages.

Due to the irreparable harm presently incurred by the Players, compared with the limited harm, if any, suffered by the NFL, I believe the balance of harms weighs heavily in the Players’ favor. Consequently, I would require the NFL to satisfy a heavier burden of showing it is likely to prevail on the merits.

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Since: Aug 9, 2009
Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:05 am

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

How can anyone feel bad for the players! There making millions to play a sport! There is health care and retirement plans! If the players feel its not enough they should set up seperate care plans and retirements from the millions there making! The average person pays for there own health care and retirement plan! Why should these men be treated differently? And if anyone says because of the risks they take i will laugh at u! There are many jobs that are much more dangerous than football. Military personel risk much more and when they retire they recieve maybe 50% of there final pay grade, which if there luck is around $2,500.00 a month depending on there rank and if they were enlisted or commisioned. The point is some how we started feeling bad for these lucky men that play a sport for a living and feel underappreciated for it. And lets not forget there are litarally thousands of guys that will take the place of these players for a fraction of what there complaining about. At least the owners actually paid hundreds of millions to be part of this league and have everything to lose if there investment goes sour. If the players fail they just leave with the money they already made. If the owner fails he goes bankrupt in the process. The work dynamic has always been the owner of the company makes the majority of the money and the employees make a generous salary if possible. Otherwise whats the benefit of being the owner...

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:48 am

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

 the players are the people out on the fiald with the posabilaty of getting hert  were they cant walk or a posabilaty of dieing out there not the owners.also the owners dont want to pay for helth care for players and explayers witch is wrong on the owners part.i live in a town in texas where there is at least 3 or 4 ex nfl players and they all think it is bull. some of the players that live here are brian cox at times an skip hiks.there is also an ol man that played for grean bay and new england i cant remember his name.and i think the onley people that are geting hert from all of this is the free agent collage players that wont get a chase to try out and get a contract.the owners need a reality is the players and the fans that make the nfl and all sports.and untile the owners and leages realise this the sports will suffer. we may be with out the nfl the nba and the nhl if the owners have there way.

Since: Sep 2, 2010
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:07 am

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

hgen910, truer words have never been spoken.

Since: Sep 2, 2010
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:05 am

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

Truer words have never been spoken.

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:41 pm

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

I beg to differ.  Outside a few owners, at least 80% of the stadiums are owned by the tax payers and if the players formed their own league the tv dollars would follow them.  Billions in tv dollars.  Jerry jones and robert kraft and enjoy their empty stadiums.

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:30 pm

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

The players would never be able to create their own league.  To upkeep an NFL franchise you must have 100s of millions of upfront dollars, be willing to take a profit loss, and be able to sustain multiple profit losses.  After expenses the players would have to take the net profits if any and spread them equally to each player.  Will the players be willing to risk their health and bank accounts over an entire season knowing they may not earn a penny?  Will the superstars be willing to earn the same pay as special teams players?  The owners are like banks.  They loan out money upfront providing the players with salaries and a stadium to showcase their talents.  The fans inturn repay the debt to the owners and a finance charge through inflated ticket sales, concession sales, merchandice sales, etc.  The owners better realize that without the fans there is no finance charge.  The players better realize that with no owners their are no salaries and stadiums to play in.     

Since: Jul 16, 2008
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:03 pm

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

The very idea of "irreparable harm" is insane in this case. None of these millionaires are being harmed "irreparably" by this lockout. 

The lockout gives the owners enough leverage to force the players back to the bargaining table. Thank God for it. 

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 10:01 pm

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

Let me ask you this, what would the average salary of an NFL palyer be if there was no more football?  Probably around the US median if they are lucky many of them would be far below that number and who knows how many would be in jail if you havent noticed many of them have problems with the law.  

The owners would simply find replacement players or other intelligent ways to invest their money and be just fine. 

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:39 pm

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

Irregardless, this ruling has nothing to with political views.  However if it was the players who are unionized would be the Liberals and the owners would be the Conservatives.  The court overseeing this case is a group of non-biased persons acting as arbitrators.  Now if you read the ruling I hope you would have assumed that it favored the owners.  That being said it was more of a Conservative outcome rather than a Liberal outcome. 

Since: Apr 14, 2007
Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:28 pm

The issue of irreparable harm in court ruling

So what would the NFL do if the playes said to hell with the NFL and their owners and started their own league? Or all the major stars decided to retire.

The owners would laugh their buttocks off as these guys applications for loans are denied one after the other.

The issue is that players are players, not businessmen. They tried to play businessmen (some of them, there are players that appreciate how fortunate they are) and are looking like children playing businessman.

The players can't start their own league because they would be bankrupt in a year or two, and creditors know this, so no money would be loaned to them.

And they have never wanted to use their own money...that concept is ridiculous to them, besides, they know better than any how little teams and owners actually bring in.

Let them try, and as far as I am concerned, if any of the players on the Tom Brady suit have any integrity or guts at all, they should take their imaginary money grab stand to the next level and never play in the NFL again.

If they were real men that is. Not just greedy spoiled brats.

I for one won't miss those greedy liars one bit.

As a matter of fact, I dare them to take that stance. Double dog dare them!

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