Blog Entry

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 12:44 pm
 
Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Update (12:35 pm EST): The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement on the court's ruling of the lockout, making it pretty clear that things are not too drastically altered by the ruling.

"While we respect the court’s decision, today’s ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season."

That's exactly what everyone wants to hear from the two sides. Hearing/seeing and doing are two different things, though.

-----

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has made its ruling: The lockout put in place by the NFL owners is legal.

Which is bad news for the NFLPA.

Just like the rest of its rulings in regards to the Brady v NFL case, the Eight Circuit was split in its decision. Judges Steven Colloton and Duane Benton ruled in favor of the NFL, while Judge Kermit Bye dissented. Read the entire ruling right here (.PDF).

The ruling was not a surprise, especially based on what the judges wrote in their permanent stay ruling in May. The timing was pretty shocking, though, especially since it seemed like the two sides were getting closer on a deal for a new CBA.

How this ruling will affect the lockout is unclear at this point, but if the owners wanted some (but, really only some) leverage, now they have it.

Here are a few keys from the ruling:

- When the NFLPA decertified, the association claimed that the NFL could not go ahead with the lockout, because there was no union anymore -- basically the players claimed the owners couldn’t keep out a bunch of independent contractors. The Eighth Circuit, though, disagreed that the NFLPA could decertify for that reason.

Writes Colloton:
The text of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the cases interpreting the term “labor dispute” do not require the present existence of a union to establish a labor dispute. Whatever the precise limits of the phrase “involving or growing out of a labor dispute,” this case does not press the outer boundary. The League and the players’ union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement for almost eighteen years prior to March 2011. They were engaged in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for approximately two years through March 11, 2011. At that point, the parties were involved in a classic “labor dispute” by the Players’ own definition. Then, on a single day, just hours before the CBA’s expiration, the union discontinued collective bargaining and disclaimed its status, and the Players filed this action seeking relief concerning industry-wide terms and conditions of employment. Whatever the effect of the union’s disclaimer on the League’s immunity from antitrust liability, the labor dispute did not suddenly disappear just because the Players elected to pursue the dispute through antitrust litigation rather than collective bargaining.
- But the court raised an interesting issue in regards to free agents and rookies not under contract. Basically, the majority opinion writes the NLGA does not cover people who are not employed because there is no employer-employee relationship. If the rookies had signed a contract, then they could be locked out. But perhaps not now.

Instead, Judge Nelson would have to hold hearings with witnesses (and with cross-examination) in order to determine where the NFL could legally lockout those free agents and rookies.

Since the Court rules that Nelson didn’t consider the potential irreparable harm to free agents and rookies in her reasoning for lifting the lockout, the Court invalidated her ruling. And then remands the whole thing back to Nelson.

- The player did get back some leverage when the court expressed “no view on whether the League’s nonstatutory labor exemption from the antitrust laws continues after the union’s disclaimer.”

So, that might be something for the NFLPA to argue at some point. Is the NFL really exempt from antitrust law? The trade association could move ahead with that part of the case, which could be a worry to owners.

Initially, the court ruling sounded really bad for the players, but after looking through it all, it’s not quite all ice cream and sunshine for the NFL.

- Bye gets off a pretty good zinger in his dissent:

Through its holding in this case today, the majority reaffirms the wisdom of the old French saying … : “the more things are legislatively changed, the more they remain the same judicially.” … Despite the repeated efforts of the legislative branch to come to the rescue of organized labor, today’s opinion puts the power of the Act in the service of employers, to be used against non-unionized employees who can no longer avail themselves of protections of labor laws. Because I cannot countenance such interpretation of the Act, I must and hereby dissent.”
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Comments
hgtrerte
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:21 pm
This comment has been removed.

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tomlye
Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 2:19 pm
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Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:38 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

Interesting points, balrog.  Maybe the full text of the decision (which I haven't yet read) clarifies this.  But maybe they mean that the owners can't collectively refuse to negotiate with those players.  Or maybe that they're just not yet ruling on that point.  But certainly it would make no sense for them to say--in the context of the present decision--that the owners have to extend opportunities to unsigned players (including rookies) that they wouldn't have had even under the old agreement
Agreed Argo444--have not had time to read the entire ruling yet.  They may clarify the point more in the decision.



Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: July 8, 2011 5:36 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

The law suit is about years of things the NFL has done that the Players feel are Anti-Trust issues but the Players could not file a lawsuit until they decertified the Union and the CBA expired
Sorry, but I don't really believe this and neither should you.  The player's real intent is made clear in another part of the lawsuit, to wit: 

 

“the players in the NFL have determined that it is not in their

interest to remain unionized if the existence of such a union would serve to allow the

NFL to impose anticompetitive restrictions with impunity.”

 In otherwords, the only real point to the decertification, and thus the suit, was an attempt to "win" negotiations over a new CBA. They knew the right of an employer to lockout a union under federal labor law in labor disputes gave the owners leverage in the CBA negotiations and were trying to prevent the lockout --it had nothing to do with future marketing or anything else, certainly not because they decided they didnt like the union or what it did for them...it was just a negotiating ploy -- further evidenced by the fact that you don't hear about ANY player attempting to negotation with ANY team outside of going through DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA "trade association".  The rest of the lawsuit is just subterfuge for the real purpose, leverage in negotiating a CBA at which point the NFLPA will "recertify" as a union.




Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 2:38 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

Wow. Having studied debate and court rulings....that is about as strongly worded dissent as you'll ever see.



Since: Sep 28, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:50 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

I can not believe how few posters actually understand what the "Brady vs the NFL" class action law suit is all about.  Here is a link to learn about it.

 

The law suit is about years of things the NFL has done that the Players feel are Anti-Trust issues but the Players could not file a lawsuit until they decertified the Union and the CBA expired.

Here is a snippet:

"The players allege that the NFL conspired to deny the players' ability to market their services in what is a $9 billion business. They spelled out what they called a long history of NFL antitrust violations, citing as constraints the potential lockout, rookie salary limitations and the franchise and transition player designations. Teams use those designations to keep key free agents off the open market, but the players also are well compensated when they sign new contracts."

When there is a Players Union and a CBA agreed to and signed by both the Players Union and the Owners the Owners are allowed to do things that would be illegal for them to do without the Players Union and the agreed upon CBA.  The NFL can not operate the way it use to without a Players Union and an agreed to and signed CBA.

Some of those things that would be illegal are the years before a player is a free agent, Franchise player tags, Restricted free agent tenders, the way the draft works and many others.

A small part of the "Brady vs the NFL" law suit is the stay of the Owner's lockout which was granted by that female judge and then the stay was temporarily held by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit court and now they have made a permanent ruling that the lockout can continue.

The Players can still continue on their law suit for all the other damages they are claiming and they can appeal this latest ruling by the 8th Circuit court.

If the Players and Owners can agree on a new deal, part of that deal will have to be that the Players drop their lawsuit, reform the Players Union and sign the new CBA.




Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:46 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

(1) While I agree with the posters who've noted that the players could seek to have the Supreme Court hear the case, I should point out that even if they do agree to hear it, the chances of the Court with its present conservative composition giving the players a much better result than the Eighth Circuit did are probably pretty slim. 
(2) I will say, though, that it only takes four of the nine justices to get the court to hear the case.  That much is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
(3) Also, while I'm not too familiar with the makeup of the full Eighth Circuit court of appeals, I would guess there's a better chance of a rehearing by them where the three-judge decision was split 2-1.
(4) Finally, a negotiated end to the lockout wouldn't by itself necessarily resolve all aspects of the injunction litigation, unless the negotiated settlement itself says so.  Otherwise, some of it would become moot, but not all of it.




Since: Jul 9, 2009
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:34 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

This part [that players without contracts can't be locked out] makes no sense -- if you do not have a contract I dont need to lock you out.  If you are not under contract you already cannot come use my practice facilities, get copies of my playbooks, etc.  You really only need to lockout the players with contracts.
Interesting points, balrog.  Maybe the full text of the decision (which I haven't yet read) clarifies this.  But maybe they mean that the owners can't collectively refuse to negotiate with those players.  Or maybe that they're just not yet ruling on that point.  But certainly it would make no sense for them to say--in the context of the present decision--that the owners have to extend opportunities to unsigned players (including rookies) that they wouldn't have had even under the old agreement.  And I don't even know that the players' side was requesting such a ruling.
Also, I'm not sure if a distinction was being drawn between free agents and mere "unsigned players"--i.e., players who aren't free agents but who just don't happen to have individual contracts for the 2011 season yet.  Of course, under the old CBA, the unsigned non-free agent players--despite not having individual contracts--would still be governed by many provisions of the CBA, relating to discipline and other matters.



Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:29 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

You got it wrong, the 2 judges are Republicans who ruled in favor for the league and only one judge is a Democrat who was in favor for the players.



Since: Dec 16, 2008
Posted on: July 8, 2011 12:23 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

Oh. PacFan predicted it. So it must be so. After all he's . .he's . .he's . . a nobody.


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