SBD/April 1, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 21: Players Seek Damages From NFL TV Deals

The NFLPA Thursday filed court papers in federal court in Minnesota seeking a multimillion-dollar compensatory and punitive damages award, as well as an injunction seeking to prevent the NFL from receiving more than $4B in television revenues if no NFL games are played during the lockout. The players’ brief asks U.S. District Court Judge David Doty, who found last month that the NFL violated its agreement with the NFLPA to maximize revenues in the negotiation of its television contracts in the last two years of the expired CBA, to award damages and grant the injunction. A hearing is set on the matter for May 12. The “main thing the players are seeking is to stop them from accessing the money" from the television contracts that would have been paid even if no games are played, said Jeffrey Kessler, counsel for the players in that case, which is Reggie White v. the NFL. "It's another way to make it less likely for the lockout to continue so the players can play and that is the No. 1 objective," Kessler said. NFL Senior VP/Communications Greg Aiello responded to the filing in an e-mail, saying, "It is part of the process in the case. Our response is due April 21." Doty in his decision last month found that the NFL did not maximize television revenues in ’09 and ‘10, which were covered by the NFL CBA that expired on March 12. The NFLPA decertified as a union on March 11 and the NFL locked the players out shortly after midnight on March 12.

PLAYERS' REQUESTS: The players are asking that the NFL be enjoined from receiving the $4B, as well as millions of dollars, that the players’ brief states the NFL "left on the table" in ‘09 and ‘10 in the renegotiation of the television contracts. The brief also asks for punitive damages, at least three times the amount of the actual damages. However the amount of the damages that the NFL players are asking for were redacted, as many of the details in the case are still under a court seal. This case is separate from the Tom Brady v. the NFL case, which is asking that another judge in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul grant an injunction to stop a lockout. Kessler, who is also class counsel to the players in the Brady case, said, "In the Brady case, we hope to stop the lockout. You can see a common theme here. This is all about bringing back football."
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