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The House Judiciary Committee's subcomittee on economic and commercial law approved a "limited" bill aimed at removing baseball's antitrust exemption should the owners unilaterally impose a salary cap with the players on strike. The full Judiciary Commitee is expected to vote on the bill today, and Chairman Jack Brooks (D-TX) has vowed to get the measure out of committee. Rep. Mike Synar (D-OK), who sponsored the bill: "This is an historic day. For the first time in the history of Congress, a subcommittee -- and tomorrow a committee -- has voted to remove an exemption that has existed for over 50 years." However, Synar's bill passed after two "key provisions" desired by the MLBPA were deleted: 1) An automatic injucntion against a salary cap until any lawsuits are decided; 2) The courts would dcided whether the union would have to decertify before a suit could be heard. MLBPA General Counsel Gene Orza said the union officials needed to study the changes before reacting (AP/WASHINGTON POST, 9/29). But Orza did say: "The mere fact a bill has been reported out is a major step forward" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/29). Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "Jack Brooks said he was going to do this so nothing about it is surprising" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/29). Rep. Hamilton Fish (R-NY), the lone dissenter: "What is Congress doing interfering in a labor dispute when there is no national security interest involved?" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 9/29). ON THE SENATE SIDE: The developments in the House "offered encouragement" to Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH), who plans to attach a similar bill as an amendment to an appropriations bill for the District of Columbia. That could come today, although one Metzenbaum aide said he may wait until House Judiciary gets its bill out of committee (N.Y. TIMES, 9/29). Co-sponsor Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): "There's a lot of maneuvering behind the scenes" (AP, 9/29). TODAY: The House Subcommittee on Labor- Management Relations holds a hearing on a bill proposed by Rep. Pat Williams (D-MT) to impose binding arbitration on both sides.
Mario Lemieux is a defendant in a civil suit filed by a woman who was hit in the nose by a hockey puck at a game five years ago. The incident occurred during a Penguins-Rangers game while play was stopped because of a fight. The woman, Patricia Ward, is suing both Lemieux and the Penguins for negligence since Lemiuex flipped the puck during a timeout -- a violation of NHL rules. Her attorney, Charles Evans, noted a precedent -- a woman struck by a baseball during batting practice at Three Rivers successfully suing for damages (Jan Ackerman, PITTSBURGH POST- GAZETTE, 9/29).
A dispute over who will control L.A. Kings President Bruce McNall's assets -- including his remaining 28% in the Kings -- "has been resolved, with McNall agreeing to turn over clear control to a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee." The agreement gives trustee R. Todd Neilson "clear authority to sell McNall's interest in the Kings at some point. No sale is planned, and Neilson has agreed to abide by NHL rules requiring league approval if he chooses to sell the stake." The agreement also states Neilson is not waiving his rights to potentially challenge McNall's sale of 72% of the team to Jeffrey Sudikoff and Joseph Cohen. "Sources, however, indicate that such a challenge is unlikely and that Neilson is simply preserving his rights." Attorneys for McNall and the trustee "hailed" the agreement as a positive step (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 9/29).
On the eve of their lawsuit against MLB, Vincent Piazza and Vincent Tirendi, two men who removed from the unsuccessful bid to move the Giants to St. Petersburg, reached a settlement with baseball officials. Both sides would only offer a short statement saying that they had reached an "amicable resolution," but sources revealed some specifics. MLB will agree to pay them more than $6M and declare that the owners were wrong in rejecting the two as possible owners. Piazza: "We got everything we wanted. We got money, and we got the apology." The settlement also stipluates that the two may apply again for ownership (Michael Bamberger, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/29). TAMPA/ST. PETE GROUP IS WATCHING: Vincent Naimoli, who led the Giants bid and now retains local rights to any expansion effort, said he was pleased the suit was resolved. But Noam Neusner of the TAMPA TRIBUNE notes that videotaped depositions taken for the case "might come in handy" if Naimoli and St. Petersburg officials decide to "reactivate their now-dormant lawsuit" against MLB. Naimoli's attorney, John Higgins, said if Piazza and Tirendi "struck a deal guaranteeing them ownership of an expansion team elsewhere, and thus eliminating St. Petersburg from contention," then the city and Naimoli "could resurrect their court action" (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 9/29).