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United States District Court for the District of Oregon
June 17, 2021, Decided; June 17, 2021, Filed
Case No. 3:21-cv-00683-IM
[*1066] OPINION AND ORDER
IMMERGUT, District Judge.
Before this Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. ECF 2. Plaintiff, a 15-year-old soccer player, seeks an order from this Court enjoining Defendant National Women's Soccer League ("NWSL" or "the League") from enforcing against her its rule that all players in the League must be at least 18 years old (the "Age Rule"). This Court previously granted Plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") prohibiting enforcement of the Age Rule pending this Court's ruling [**2] on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction. ECF 47; ECF 77.
The preliminary injunction sought by Plaintiff is limited in its scope. Plaintiff seeks an order prohibiting the League from preventing her from playing professional soccer on an NWSL team through its requirement that players be at least 18 years of age. ECF 1 at 12; ECF 2 at 31. As Plaintiff clarified during the hearing on the TRO, she does not seek an order requiring the NWSL or any of its member teams to hire her. Further, Plaintiff does not seek an order that interferes with negotiations between the NWSL and the NWSL Players Association ("NWSL PA"). Plaintiff concedes that if the NWSL and the NWSL PA enter into a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") that includes an age restriction, she could lose her ability to play for the NWSL until she is age-eligible and would not have grounds to challenge such a restriction. ECF 1 at 12; ECF 50 at 17. Through this preliminary injunction, Plaintiff solely seeks the opportunity to compete for a position on a professional soccer team free from the Age Rule's restrictions.
On May 4, 2021, Plaintiff filed her complaint and a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. [**3] ECF 1; ECF 2. Plaintiff's complaint challenges the NWSL's Age Rule as a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, and argues that "[t]he ten teams in the NWSL have agreed among themselves, and with the League, not to contract with soccer players under the age of 18, without regard to their talents or their ability to compete in the League." ECF 1 at ¶¶ 3, 40. Plaintiff further argues that the NWSL is the only option for women to play professional soccer in the United States, and that the Age Rule serves no legitimate business justification or procompetitive purpose. Id. at ¶¶ 41, 44. Plaintiff points to the absence of any age restrictions for male soccer players to demonstrate that the public interest in open competition and the equal treatment of women favors an injunction in this case. Id. at ¶ 45. Plaintiff asserts that keeping her out of the NWSL, which has already started its season of games, "will continually slow her development, delay her improvement, and more generally impede her career as a soccer player." Id. at ¶ 35.
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544 F. Supp. 3d 1063 *; 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113666 **; 2021 WL 2478439
O.M., by and through her parent and guardian, K.C. MOULTRIE, Plaintiff, v. NATIONAL WOMEN'S SOCCER LEAGUE, LLC, Defendant.
Prior History: O.M. v. Nat'l Women's Soccer League, LLC, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97840, 2021 WL 2073475 (D. Or., May 24, 2021)
teams, Age Rule, players, League, preliminary injunction, soccer, injunction, procompetitive, exemption, collective bargaining agreement, non-statutory, antitrust, initial burden, entities, negotiated, changes, public interest, irreparable, enjoining, bargain, compete, argues, rights, terms, mandatory injunction, bargaining process, rule of reason, soccer player, anticompetitive, unilateral
Civil Procedure, Remedies, Injunctions, Preliminary & Temporary Injunctions, Temporary Restraining Orders, Grounds for Injunctions, Balance of Hardships, Mandatory Injunctions, Antitrust & Trade Law, Sherman Act, Claims, Price Fixing & Restraints of Trade, Cartels & Horizontal Restraints, Sherman Act, Tying Arrangements, Sherman Act Violations, Per Se Rule & Rule of Reason, Monopolies & Monopolization, Conspiracy to Monopolize, Scope, Monopolization Offenses, Per Se Rule Tests, Manifestly Anticompetitive Effects, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Burden Shifting, Elements, Actual Monopolization, Monopoly Power, Regulated Practices, Private Actions, Exemptions, Exemptions & Immunities, Labor, Statutory Exemptions, Irreparable Harm