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The NFL Might Have Made Judge Nelson's Decision Easy

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After the jump is part of the 89 page brief that was part of Judge Nelson's decision. The particular part that was pulled by Andrew Norcross for former NFL player Stephen White might have been the coup de gras for the NFL's request for a stay. Essentially, by claiming irreparable harm the NFL forced the Judge to compare the "harm" to each side, and it seems like they made her decision that much easier.

WARNING LEGAL JARGON STUFF

 

2. The Irreparable Harm To The Players Outweighs Any Harm An

Injunction Would Cause the NFL

A related Dataphase factor requires this Court to balance the harm alleged by

Plaintiffs against the harm an injunction would cause other parties. Rounds, 530 F.3d at

729 (citing Dataphase, 640 F.2d at 113). The NFL argues that the balance of harms

weighs in their favor, because if the Court grants the requested injunction, the NFL

"undoubtedly would be subject to additional antitrust claims." (Doc. No. 34, at 53 (Mem.

at 45) (citing Ruocco Decl. ¶ 5).)

But the requested injunction at issue is confined solely to the NFL's lockout. This

Court is not addressing the merits of the Players' other antitrust claims-those regarding

Player restraints. This Court is not presently addressing whether the non-statutory

antitrust exemption would still apply, after the NFLPA's unequivocal disclaimer of

representation, to the mandatory terms of collective bargaining, that is, the terms and

conditions of the Players' employment. And in issuing a preliminary injunction against

the lockout, this Court is, of course, only ruling that the Brady Plaintiffs have a fair

chance of prevailing on that particular claim. Such an injunction is not an adjudication

that the NFL is liable for any antitrust violation.

The NFL's argument that an order of this Court enjoining the lockout will cause

the League harm because such an order will necessarily expose them to antitrust liability

is unpersuasive. Insofar as such liability would flow from the League's lockout violating

the Sherman Act, the League cannot predicate harm on the results of its illegal conduct.

Insofar as such liability would flow from the League being found liable on the other

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CASE 0:11-cv-00639-SRN-JJG Document 99 Filed 04/25/11 Page 80 of 89

claims of the Brady Plaintiffs' Complaint, the alleged harm is entirely speculative as this

Court is not presently addressing those claims.

The League also contends that "an injunction would lead" to "the more favorably

situated teams signing the best players" and thus "harm the NFL by destroying the

competitive balance that is essential" to its business. (Doc. No. 34, at 54-55 (Mem. at 46-

46).) But again, that argument rests on the misconception that an injunction against the

lockout addresses the merits of the Players' antitrust claims regarding the various Player

restraints such as "‘restrictions on player free agency.'" (Id. (quoting Complaint, ¶ 132).)

This Court is not presently addressing the merits of the antitrust claims regarding Player

restrictions and is not ruling on whether the non-statutory labor exemption shields the

League from such claims.