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Oakland Raiders Urge Judge Not To Dismiss NFL Antitrust Case

 |  April 19, 2020

The city of Oakland urged a California federal magistrate judge Friday, April 17, not to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL over its decision to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, claiming the league is a “cartel” that restricts the market by barring additional teams from joining it, reported Law 360. 

US Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero expressed skepticism during a video hearing that Oakland had plausibly alleged that if not for the NFL’s 32-team limit, the Raiders would have remained in Oakland, or that the city would have been able to host another football team.

The “question is whether the nonexpansion is lawful,” Judge Spero said.

But Bruce Simon of Pearson Simon & Warshaw, counsel for Oakland, told the judge that the NFL’s revenue sharing structure and its collective action unlawfully restrict the market and have made it “highly unlikely, if not impossible,” for another team to join the league.

“The NFL has already been found to be a cartel,” Simon said, pointing to the 2010 US Supreme Court decision, American Needle v. NFL,  which held that the NFL and its teams can make licensing decisions as a collective and that the league’s conduct is subject to scrutiny under antitrust laws.

Simon told the judge that any efforts to bring in a new team “would be futile” and that “the NFL would fight it tooth and nail.”

“They don’t want another mouth to feed. It means less money in their pockets,” counsel for Oakland told the court, explaining that the league has a financial motive to restrict, in an anti-competitive way, the number of teams that come into the league.

Full Content: Law 360

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