NFL

Judge Nelson Rules Against NFL Owners, For Injunction to End Lockout

| by Alex Groberman

In the most shocking development to emerge from the never-ending NFL owners vs. players feud thus far, U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled in favor of the players on Monday – issuing an injunction that ordered the owners to lift their lockout.

While the league has already come out and publicly stated that they will appeal the decision, the reverberations from the judge’s ruling are already being felt all the way down the NFL hierarchy.

Specifically, the league will appeal on the grounds that the federal law prohibits injunctions in labor disputes, however, the legitimacy of their appeal has yet to be determined.

Originally, a lockout was put into place after no suitable middle ground could be reached between players and owners during talks last month. The case was filed by Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and seven others -- who did so on behalf of the current and eligible NFL players against the league to halt a lockout.

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You can find Judge Nelson’s complete closing to her 89-page decision statement (by way of ProFootballTalk) below:

“The nation’s labor laws have always applied only where an action involves or grows out of a labor dispute.  Such a labor relationship exists only where a union exists to bargain on behalf of its members. Where those employees effectively renounce the union as their collective bargaining agent — and accept the consequences of doing so — and elect to proceed in negotiating contracts individually, any disputes between the employees and their employers are no longer governed by federal labor law. Likewise, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which applies only to preclude some injunctions in the context of ‘labor disputes,’ also no longer applies here to preclude injunctive relief. The NFL urges this Court to expand the law beyond these traditional dictates and argues that the protections of labor law should apply for some indefinite period beyond the collapse and termination of the collective bargaining relationship. In the absence of either persuasive policy or authority, this Court takes a more conservative approach, and declines to do so.

“This Court, having found that the Union’s unequivocal disclaimer is valid and effective, concludes there is no need to defer any issue to the NLRB.  Because that disclaimer is valid and effective, the Norris-LaGuardia Act’s prohibition against injunctive relief does not preclude granting the Player’s motion for a preliminary
injunction against what the League characterizes as a ‘lockout.’

“Based on the foregoing, and all the files, records and proceedings herein, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that:

“1. The Brady Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction [Doc. No. 2] is
GRANTED;

“2. The Eller Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction [Doc. No. 58] is
MOOT; and

“3. The ‘lockout’ is enjoined.”