Attorneys representing the NFL’s locked out players on Thursday
asked a federal judge for at least $707 million in damages
resulting from a ruling that the NFL’s $4 billion in television
network deals constituted a violation of the league’s collective
By Bob Glauber – Newsday
Attorneys representing the NFL’s locked out players on Thursday asked a federal judge for at least $707 million in damages resulting from a ruling that the NFL’s $4 billion in television network deals constituted a violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty, who made that ruling in early March, said Thursday he would take the players’ request under advisement during his deliberations on how much he might award players in the case. The players’ attorneys contend the league’s contracts amounted to a lockout “war chest” because of stipulations in the deals that would see the league get paid whether or not there are games in 2011.
Doty began the hearing by criticizing both sides for being unable to reach a deal on a new CBA.
“I’ll be honest with you,” he said, “I didn’t think we would have this hearing, and I’m a bit disappointed we are having it.”
When Doty ruled March 1 that the owners violated the CBA with the TV deal, it was seen as a major swing in leverage for the players during their negotiations. However, collective bargaining talks broke off March 11 when the NFL Players Association decertified as a union. The NFL imposed a lockout the next day, and the two sides have been at loggerheads ever since.
The players won an injunction that briefly lifted the lockout on April 25, but owners appealed the decision to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and were given a temporary stay of the injunction. The Eighth Circuit has scheduled a June 3 expedited hearing on the appeal, and has not ruled on a request by the NFL for a full stay that would keep the lockout in place until the appeal is concluded.
If Doty grants the players huge sums of money in damages over the TV rights case, the NFL is expected to appeal that ruling to the Eighth Circuit, meaning that there will be no swift resolution of the matter.
If and when the two sides do reach agreement on a new CBA, it is expected that they’ll negotiate their own settlement of the TV rights issue.