SBD/March 21, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

ATP Asks Court To Make Two Tourneys Pay Legal Fees As Part Of Antitrust Lawsuit

The ATP World Tour Friday asked the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to force two of its tournaments to pay the circuit roughly $20M in legal fees and costs associated with their failed antitrust lawsuit against the tour. The German tournament, partially owned by the Qatari Tennis Federation, which owns the Doha stop, sued the Tour in '07 for demoting the Hamburg event as part of a new calendar restructuring. A jury ruled in '08 against the tournaments, as did the Third Circuit on appeal. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. But the original district court in Delaware turned down the ATP’s request for fees. The ATP passed a bylaw a month before the lawsuit was filed requiring members to pay legal fees for failed legal actions. In its brief Friday, the tour said the district court had no right to overturn the tour’s own bylaws. Noting that the tournaments had pointed out that the award of fees was usually not done in antitrust cases, the ATP disagreed, but said not all of the charges were antitrust so at least some of the fees should be able to be recouped. The fees were a major drain on ATP coffers, and the circuit had told its tournaments that the bylaws would allow the tennis group to recover them. The tour likely also has to go through every effort possible to recover the fees before seeking insurance that might cover some of the costs.
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