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SULLIVAN TO GET ANOTHER TRIAL ON NFL ANTITRUST MATTER
Published February 28, 1995
The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear an appeal by the NFL on a federal appeals court ruling that William Sullivan, former owner of the Patriots, may bring his antitrust case again before a federal court jury. In the case, Sullivan was awarded $17M by a jury in damages after challenging the legality of the league's ban on the sale of any team's stock to the public. The jury found that the NFL's ban on public ownership -- exclusive to the league -- violated antitrust law "because it restricted competition for investment money by those who might want to buy or sell shares of team ownership." As antitrust law dictates, the damages were tripled to $51M. In September, the federal appeals court in Boston threw out the ruling because of faulty trial instructions, but declined to end the case as the league "had urged it to do." The NFL contended that owners do not act in competition, but "as a single economic unit." Sullivan's case will now go before a jury trial in Boston federal court (Lyle Denniston, Baltimore SUN, 2/28).