Entertainment & Sports Law

8th Circuit Allows NFL Lockout, Overturning Lower Court Injunction

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A federal appeals court is allowing the lockout by the National Football League in a ruling that overturns a preliminary injunction.

The St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the injunction could not be granted under the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which restricts the power of courts to issue injunctions in labor disputes.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson had ruled the law does not apply because the players had decertified the union. The appeals court disagreed in a 2-1 decision. “The text of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the cases interpreting the term ‘labor dispute’ do not require the present existence of a union to establish a labor dispute,” the majority opinion (PDF) said.

The decision “did not radically alter the dynamics” of the labor negotiations, the New York Times reports in a story comparing the NFL lockout to the “surprisingly subdued” lockout by the National Basketball Association. “If anything, several legal experts said, the decision merely affirmed the 8th Circuit’s conservative reputation—and underscored why the NBA players union should seek a different court if it files an antitrust lawsuit,” the Times says.

The Washington Post, the Kansas City Star and How Appealing also have coverage. According to the Post, the timing of the ruling was surprising, since the 8th Circuit had already stayed Nelson’s injunction and progress is being made in negotiations.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “NFL Scores in 8th Circuit, Where Liberals Are Moderate”

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