In a 2-1 decision, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the National Football League’s lockout will stay in place pending their appeal of U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling. Judges Steven Colloton and Duane Benton sided with the NFL while Judge Kermit Bye dissented in favor of the players.
The Court found that the NFL has proven it “likely will suffer some degree of irreparable harm without a stay” and was not convince that Judge Susan Nelson’s conclusions were correct.
“In sum, we have serious doubts that the district court had jurisdiction to enjoin the league’s lockout, and accordingly conclude that the league has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits.”
“The district court reasoned that this case does not involve or grow out of a labor dispute because the players no longer are represented by a union,” the majority wrote. “We have considerable doubt about this interpretation of the Norris-La Guardia Act and does not specify that the employees must be members of a union for the case to involve or grow out of a labor dispute.”
“We do not agree, however, with the district court’s apparent view that the balance of the equities tilts heavily in favor of the players,” the majority wrote. “The district court gave little or no weight to the harm caused to the league by an injunction issued in the midst of an ongoing dispute over terms and conditions of employment. The court found irreparable harm to the players because the lockout prevents free agents from negotiating contracts with any team, but gave no weight to harm that would be caused to the League by player transactions that would occur only with an injunction against the lockout.”
Judge Bye, in is dissenting opinion, dismissed the conclusions of his fellow judges, stating, “Notwithstanding the majority’s analysis, the NFL has not persuaded me it will suffer irreparable harm during the pendency of this expedited appeal,” Bye wrote. “In any event, there will not be any shift in the ‘balance of power’ until the appeal is resolved.” Additionally, “The preliminary injunction does not dictate the NFL’s free agency rules, or any other conduct in general, outside of the lockout,” he said. “Whatever harm may be said to befall the NFL during the pendency of the expedited appeal stands in stark contrast to the irreparable harm suffered by the players.”
The good news, NFL owners and the former NFL Players’ Association resumed court-ordered mediation with of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.