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NFL Lockout: 8th Circuit Court Hands Owners' Their First Victory

The 8th circuit court has finally handed down a ruling on the NFL owner’s request for a permanent stay on Judge Susan Nelson’s ruling against them. Suffice to say, the players aren’t going to like it.

The appellate court granted the NFL a permanent stay of Judge Nelson’ ruling pending a full appeal sometime next month. When the court granted the temporary stay, it seemed only a matter of time before it would issue a permanent one. The vote was 2-1 and the majority opinion had this to say.

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 majority wrote.

This speaks to the exact argument the NFL made to Judge Nelson. They said that she didn’t have jurisdiction in the matter and it should be referred to the National Labor Relations Board, which adjudicates disputes between a union and ownership. She ruled that wasn’t the case.

One of the reasons no one was surprised that Judge Nelson ruled in favor of the players was because of some of the comments she made and questions she asked during the case. It was clear she was leaning toward the players. Which way do you think the 8th circuit is leaning? In this passage, they directly address Judge Nelson’s ruling.

“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 … [the Norris-La Guardia Act] does not specify that the employees must be members of a union for the case to involve or grow out of a labor dispute.”

If you read the excerpts I took from Judge Nelson’s ruling, she was impeccable in backing up her understanding of the law. Right there, the 8th circuit just said…. “We disagree.” And in the way our court system works, what the appellate court says is what goes.

This seems pretty simple to me. The players are going to lose. And after the 8th circuit, there’s pretty much no where else to go. So, they might want to think hard about really trying to hammer out a deal in these next couple weeks. Because when the owners win, and I think it’s pretty clear that they will, this is going to set a precedent that the NFLPA, MLBPA, NHLPA and NBAPA don’t want. It may be wise to get a deal done before the 8th circuit hears this case.