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United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
June 17, 1976, Submitted ; October 18, 1976, Decided
[*609] LAY, Circuit Judge.
This is an appeal by the National Football League (NFL), twenty-six of its member clubs, and its Commissioner, Alvin Ray "Pete" Rozelle, from a district court [**2] judgment holding the "Rozelle Rule" 1 to be violative of § 1 of the Sherman Act, and enjoining its enforcement.
This action was initiated by a group of present and former NFL players, 2 appellees herein, pursuant to §§ 4 and 16 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 15 and 26, and § 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. Their complaint alleged that the defendants' enforcement of the Rozelle Rule constituted an illegal combination and conspiracy in restraint of trade denying professional football players the right to freely contract for their services. Plaintiffs [**3] sought injunctive relief and treble damages.
The district court, the Honorable Earl R. Larson presiding, conducted a plenary trial which consumed 55 days and produced a transcript in excess of 11,000 pages. At the conclusion of trial, the court entered extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law. 3 The court granted the injunctive relief sought by the players and entered judgment in [**4] their favor on the issue of liability. 4 This appeal followed.
The district court held that the defendants' enforcement of the Rozelle Rule constituted a concerted refusal to deal and a group boycott, and was therefore a per se violation of the Sherman Act. Alternatively, finding that the evidence offered in support of the clubs' contention that the Rozelle Rule is necessary to the successful operation of the NFL insufficient to justify the restrictive effects of the Rule, the court concluded that the Rozelle Rule was invalid under the Rule of Reason standard. Finally, the court rejected the clubs' argument that the Rozelle Rule was immune from attack under the Sherman Act because it had been the subject of a collective bargaining agreement between the club owners and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
[**5] The defendants raise two basic issues on this appeal: (1) whether the so-called labor exemption to the antitrust laws immunizes the NFL's enforcement of the Rozelle Rule from antitrust liability; and (2) if not, whether the Rozelle Rule and the manner in which it has been enforced violate the antitrust [*610] laws. Ancillary to these contentions, appellants attack a number of the district court's findings of fact and raise several subsidiary issues.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
543 F.2d 606 *; 1976 U.S. App. LEXIS 6643 **; 1976-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P61,119
John Mackey, et al., Appellees v. National Football League, et al., Appellants
Subsequent History: [**1] Rehearing Denied November 23, 1976.
Prior History: Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
Disposition: Court affirmed judgment for plaintiff football players against defendants league and commissioner in suit for Sherman Act violation for league regulation requiring team acquiring player whose contract expired to pay former team because non-statutory labor exemption did not provide immunity to defendants and regulation was illegal under Rule of Reason.
players, Rozelle Rule, exemption, teams, anti trust law, district court, Sherman Act, bargaining, collective bargaining, negotiations, League, free agent, mandatory, antitrust, parties, played, nonstatutory, collective bargaining agreement, rule of reason, cases, restraint of trade, per se violation, group boycott, principles, effects, Bylaws, circumstances, unilaterally, elimination, favoring
Antitrust & Trade Law, Exemptions & Immunities, Labor, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Interpretation of Agreements, Trials, Bench Trials, Judicial Review, Nonstatutory Exemptions, Regulated Practices, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Bargaining Subjects, Per Se Rule & Rule of Reason, Per Se Violations, Monopolies & Monopolization, Conspiracy to Monopolize, Sherman Act, Sherman Act, Horizontal Refusals to Deal, Boycotts, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Joint Contracts, Business & Corporate Law, Joint Ventures, Mergers & Acquisitions Law, Antitrust, Joint Ventures, Regulated Industries, Sports, Football, Federal Preemption, Primacy of Labor Policy, Duties & Liabilities, Causes of Action & Remedies, Breach of Contract