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League, players squabble over deadlines in antitrust lawsuit

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The to-lift-or-not-to-lift-the-lockout fight currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit represents only the first battle in the war declared by the players via the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit.  Regardless of whether the lockout is or isn’t lifted, the case will continue.

As Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reported earlier today, the league wants to delay until July 6 its deadline for responding to the complaint filed on March 11.  The players have opposed the request.

The league explains that the Eighth Circuit’s ruling will influence the strategy for defending the case, and that the NFL possibly will file a motion to dismiss the entire lawsuit.  That’s fine, but it shouldn’t prevent the NFL from engaging in the fairly perfunctory process of creating an answer to a civil complaint.  All the NFL has to do is respond to every numbered paragraph of the complaint by admitting that the allegation is true, denying that it’s true, or declaring that there’s not yet enough information on which an admission or denial can be based.   Throw in the standard litany of so-called “affirmative defenses,” and it’s done.

If the Eighth Circuit allows the lockout to continue with a ruling that hints that the entire case could be scuttled, then the league can file (please pardon the legal jargon) a motion to dismiss, a motion for judgment on the pleadings, or a motion for summary judgment.

So there’s no reason to delay the filing of an initial response to the complaint.  It’s a simple exercise that one of the many high-priced lawyers could bang out between the time of this posting at 5:00 p.m. ET, justifying the placement of, say, 6.75 hours on his or her timesheet for the day.  (We’re not accusing any specific lawyer of putting his or her thumb on the scale when it comes to time worked or time billed.  But the subtle overbilling of time is one of the most common — and ignored — manifestations of corruption in the practice of law.)

Is the tactic part of an effort to prolong the litigation, delaying the resolution of the case beyond the point at which the players will cry “uncle,” as they essentially contend in a rhetoric-heavy passage from the opposition to the motion?  Quite possibly.  (By the way, rhetoric is hardly uncommon in legal filings, and it’s no surprise given all the other rhetoric that this dispute has generated.)  Still, it seems like a no-brainer that Judge Nelson will tell the NFL that it’s had plenty of time to prepare an answer to the complaint, and that the league doesn’t need to wait until July 6 to file one.

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29 Responses to “League, players squabble over deadlines in antitrust lawsuit”
  1. depotnator says: May 20, 2011 2:52 PM

    One wonders if this thread is written for the benefit of football fans or to impress the league office with legal opinions.

  2. lebert32 says: May 20, 2011 2:58 PM

    This is brutal, why do i even come read this

  3. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 20, 2011 3:01 PM

    “Still, it seems like a no-brainer that Judge Nelson will tell the NFL that it’s had plenty of time to prepare an answer to the complaint, and that the league doesn’t need to wait until July 6 to file one.”

    *******************************************
    The owners and the league don’t give a damn what Susan Nelson has to say. They already know that she sides with the players and doesn’t know squat about the law(as the 8th circuit judges called her out on).
    The league is perfectly content on the bored lil housewife playing law to issue her ruling so they can appeal the issue to the 8th circuit, where REAL judges sit on the bench.

  4. commoncents says: May 20, 2011 3:01 PM

    With that said, the players shouldn’t be dragging their feet on a counter offer, or at a minimum, negotiations. if De-Wad can play by his rules, why shouldn’t everyone??

  5. hlmatty1 says: May 20, 2011 3:03 PM

    Any lawyer who has litigated at all knows that once you have filed an answer to a complaint, you generally cannot file a motion to dismiss. In addition, if it is subject to being dismissed, then the league might be entitled to sanctions for filing an improper lawsuit. So there are many reasons to wait and, frankly, no reason not to wait. What is the rush for an answer? If this case goes forward, it will be two to three years before it gets to trial. Another thirty days means nothing and since the Appellate Court seems to be in the process of blowing the Judge’s thinking to smithereens, it will obviously have some effect on the NFL’s strategy.

  6. moggy6actual says: May 20, 2011 3:05 PM

    Of course Judge Nelson will force the NFL to reply. She’s human and has to be p*ssed the league went over her head to the 8th circuit and got her ‘lockout is enjoined’ order nullified.

  7. theguy57 says: May 20, 2011 3:05 PM

    Owners: “Blah, blah, blah. We Love money. Greed is good. We’re terrible negotiators. Move dates – legal jargon. Blah, blah, blah. Spend money. Spew rhetoric. Buy judgments. Loose money. The heck with the fans. Raise ticket prices. The fans will come back. Blah, blah, blah”

    Commissioner: “Yeah. What they said; plus this is for the greater good of the game.”

    Player reps: “Blah, blah, blah. Spew rhetoric. We Love money. We’re terrible negotiators. Blah, blah, blah. Let’s waste money. Who cares about the fans? Blah, blah, blah. Cue rhetoric.”

    Players: “Uh…. this doesn’t seem to be getting any better? And we seem to be loosing leverage? Why aren’t we negotiating? I need money.”

    Lawyers: Silent Smiles

    Fans: “This better not mess up my fantasy draft. I am really getting tired of this circus. My team needs to practice … new Defense to implement! if my team does bad becasue of this mess …”

  8. nineroutsider says: May 20, 2011 3:07 PM

    Funny how I used to be so pissed about all of this and now it’s all very funny.

    DeMolition Smith nice job with the courtroom tactics…looky like the league can play this game too.

    What’s the over/under on the number of games missed? I think it obvious the league thinks it is 3.

    I will give the players more credit and say 5. If the Vegas sports books don’t have this bet yet they should…

  9. nfl25 says: May 20, 2011 3:10 PM

    this site is makin some noise for being pro owner. i think the reason this site is more like this than most is because of the type of people that come here. i hate most nfl sites, they r either phony or for kids. PFT and some local eagles sites are the only ones i visit.

    Bleed Green Nation (a small eagle site) hates that we are pro owner. the differnce between PFT and that site is that site is mainly kids on it so they are obvioulsy gonna be pro player. not sure why they label PFT writers pro owner just cuz we comment stuff that is pro owner.

    i treid to post the link but they keep deleting my post when i do

  10. hail2tharedskins says: May 20, 2011 3:14 PM

    Question I want answered is why did the Eller class not oppose the extension? As for the extension to reply to the active players claims, I suppose that Judge Nelson will be very careful how she handles it considering the harsh language the appeals court used directly towards her in their grant for a stay. If she believes the 8th Circuit could give a ruling after their June 3 hearing that would indicate the underlying complaint should be dismissed, I doubt she would want to move forward with this lawsuit. It not only makes her look very bad again, but it would a waste of her time. My quess is that she will require the NFL to file their response before the June 3 hearing, but will allow them opportunity to amend it after the 8th circuits’ ruling and would postpone any discovery (as the players are asking to start immediately) until after that time as well.

  11. technovike says: May 20, 2011 3:20 PM

    no nfl news then?

  12. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 20, 2011 3:21 PM

    Wow!
    There sure are a lot more players posting here than before.

    I guess this site needed more backup for their obvious pro player bias

  13. nfl25 says: May 20, 2011 3:22 PM

    reading commenst on the bleed green nation website is hilarious. anyone who deosnt belive that all kids r on the players side just read the comments on that site. the one commentor asked what the bloods and crypts r. they talk so much junk about the commentors on PFT

  14. theguy57 says: May 20, 2011 3:23 PM

    Too bad the players voted a litigator to represent their interest, instead of a negotiator. Maybe they should go back to trusting a football players to run the show.

  15. billsfan27 says: May 20, 2011 3:25 PM

    Who cares anymore – seriously. Who cares.

    The one thing that’s realized in all of this lockout squabble is that, yes, people can go on with their lives absent pro football.

    And we can all thank the NFL for proving it.

  16. seatown12 says: May 20, 2011 3:29 PM

    Fill out a quick petition to save next season.

    SaveNextSeason.com

  17. radrntn says: May 20, 2011 3:49 PM

    why should the owners move quickly to benefit the players…..it’s the players who started the lawsuit…screw them, they won’t even sit at a table and work on a new deal now….i hope the whole season is lost, and then the players lose the anti trust law suit as well…i would like to see how Tom Brady is going to make up the “nearly not enough” 20 million he would have made by playing next year.

  18. andrewfbrowne says: May 20, 2011 4:13 PM

    Funny when will there be a thread that says the players have had enough time to consider the offer from the NFL and craft a counter proposal? What I find interesting is that the league has now put two offers on the table that have not been replied to in anyway. Judge Nelson may say that League has had enough time to consider and craft a response, but have the players not had same opportunity albeit in a slightly different arena?

  19. semperfi24 says: May 20, 2011 4:30 PM

    Can someone define “loosing” for me?

  20. jakek2 says: May 20, 2011 4:33 PM

    No open books = No counteroffer.

    How many of you pro-owner dopes would negotiate for what I have behind Door No. 3? Of course you wouldn’t so why begrudge the players?

  21. ljl2 says: May 20, 2011 4:40 PM

    Screw all of this. Canton, Oh is gonna be the true victims in this whole mess due to the lack of tourism from people so fed up with the lockout. The Hall of Fame festivities is basically what keeps this town a float at this point.

  22. narutofan10 says: May 20, 2011 4:42 PM

    The owners and the league don’t give a damn what Susan Nelson has to say. They already know that she sides with the players and doesn’t know squat about the law(as the 8th circuit judges called her out on).
    The league is perfectly content on the bored lil housewife playing law to issue her ruling so they can appeal the issue to the 8th circuit, where REAL judges sit on the bench.
    ————————————————————–
    are all conservatives this sexist LMAO

  23. nflfan101 says: May 20, 2011 5:04 PM

    depotnator says: May 20, 2011 2:52 PM

    One wonders if this thread is written for the benefit of football fans or to impress the league office with legal opinions.
    ———————————–

    It was written to impress D. Smith and give him assistance because PFT secretly wants to be part of the players’ legal team.

    If the post was trying to be neutral, then it would point out the truth that an extension would not hurt the players at all. Also, as the post recognized, but dismissed, it is true that the NFL’s strategy could well be influenced by the 8th circuit order.

    PFT doesn’t need to worry, Judge Nelson will deny any request for an extension. She is the players’ “ace in the hole”.

    FACT: D. Smith walked out of CBA negotiations, decertified the union, had certain players file suit, and then did not attend at least one court ordered mediation session.

    If fans, players, and PFT employees really want football, then tell D. Smith to get his butt into negotiations.

  24. vetdana says: May 20, 2011 5:13 PM

    The one thing that’s realized in all of this lockout squabble is that, yes, people can go on with their lives absent pro football.

    And we can all thank the NFL for proving it.

    I wonder how many players who read this site, really understood what De Mo was getting them into ? This litigation stratedgy means YEARS of litigation ! Nobody….including owners,players and fans have…. Years to wait before this whole thing implodes in everybodies face !! GREED rears its ugly head and cries for desruction !

  25. geo1113 says: May 20, 2011 5:39 PM

    jakek2 says:
    May 20, 2011 4:33 PM
    No open books = No counteroffer
    _________________

    I am still waiting to hear one of you players’ “dopes” say why it is unacceptable to have an independent 3rd party verify the claim.

  26. billinlouisiana says: May 20, 2011 6:05 PM

    moggy6actual says:
    May 20, 2011 3:05 PM
    Of course Judge Nelson will force the NFL to reply. She’s human and has to be p*ssed the league went over her head to the 8th circuit and got her ‘lockout is enjoined’ order nullified.

    ————————————————

    I doubt she is mad at the league for appealing her decision since she knew well in advance that no matter what she had ruled there was going to be an appeal by whoever she ruled against. If anything she might be mad at the 2 senior judges for hinting that Boies might be right when he claimed she didm’t have jurisdiction to ending the lockout.

  27. jakek2 says: May 20, 2011 6:21 PM

    I am still waiting to hear one of you players’ “dopes” say why it is unacceptable to have an independent 3rd party verify the claim.
    ———
    Geo – Because the owners are NOT giving the independent 3rd party the full books. In essence, they are still making this independent party guess what is behind Door No. 3.

  28. eagleswin says: May 20, 2011 7:58 PM

    jakek2 says:
    May 20, 2011 6:21 PM

    Geo – Because the owners are NOT giving the independent 3rd party the full books. In essence, they are still making this independent party guess what is behind Door No. 3.

    ——————

    I hope you don’t really believe what you are posting.

    “We did offer to release five years of individual club-by-club financial documents to a mutually acceptable third party to review, analyze and report on those documents,” Pash said. “We also offered to give the union aggregate profit data for the 32 clubs as a whole so they could see how the profitability has changed over the years. We offered substantial financial disclosures and the union chose not to take it.”

    Five year of auditted individual club-by-club financial documents. That’s a long way from 2 numbers written on a napkin that a number of player supporters keep touting. The real reason, which everyone knows yet the player supporters keep glossing over is that the union wants to use the numbers, whatever they may be, as a weapon the same as the NBA players.

    Let’s see how opening the books has worked for the NBA (from an article in the LATimes)

    Stern insists the glow hides a broken economic model, projecting a $370-million loss — this season — and offering owners’ tax returns to prove it, quipping in one of his asides on a conference call:

    “That’s our story and we’re sticking with it.”

    Hunter called the figures “baloney,” noting they include hundreds of millions in depreciation and interest.

    “I wouldn’t use the word again, but the things they’re asking for are nonstarters,” Hunter said.

    The owners were offering tax returns but the players don’t want things like depreciation and interest to count as expenses. Why would anyone expect the NFLPA to be more reasonable when it comes to understanding and using common accounting principles?

  29. depotnator says: May 21, 2011 10:42 AM

    It’s too bad that the IRS doesn’t allow NFL players to depreciate their bodies so that they can keep more of their taxable income over their short careers.

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