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San Jose responds to MLB’s motion to dismiss, hearing set for October 4

Sep 7, 2013, 10:05 AM EDT

lawsuit gavel

The San Jose-Major League baseball lawsuit continues, with San Jose filing a response to Major League Baseball’s motion to dismiss. Major League Baseball will get a final reply and a hearing on the matter is set for October 4. The Mercury-News has a summary of it all.

Well, maybe not all. For while it does deal with the arguments the two sides have lobbed back and forth about whether Major League Baseball is entitled to maintain its antitrust exemption, nowhere in the story does it mention Major League Baseball’s better, stronger argument about how the city of San Jose doesn’t have legal standing to challenge it.  I’ve talked about that extensively.

I believe that, if for some reason the court decides that San Jose does have standing, the anti-trust exemption and Major League Baseball could be in serious legal trouble here. But that’s a huge, unlikely “if,” and I am having a really hard time seeing how San Jose gets over that threshold.

But boy howdy if they do, get the popcorn, because this will be a total blast.

  1. righthandofjustice - Sep 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    MLB’s argument: Supreme Court decisions have exempted baseball from federal and state antitrust laws

    San Jose’s argument: baseball’s antitrust exemption is antiquated and was limited to labor issues, which Congress overturned with the Curt Flood Act.

    MLB may argue Curt Flood Act of 1998 does not resemble its antitrust status in this case but nonetheless, it clearly showed the Congress didn’t exempt baseball
    from ALL federal and state antitrust laws.

    • Roger Moore - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      If that’s San Jose’s argument, they’re going to get crisped. The anti-trust exemption is quite clearly not limited to labor issues, since Federal Baseball had nothing to do with labor. If anything, the Curt Flood act strengthens the remaining, non-labor parts of the exemption; by specifically applying anti-trust only to labor issues, it makes it clear that Congress did not want to apply them to the rest of MLB’s business practices.

      • righthandofjustice - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        Labor and moving a team are two mutually exclusive issues. San Jose has made a very good argument the Congress did not grant exemption to MLB on all federal and state issues. That’s already a very clear point this case should not be dismissed. What antitrust exemption has been granted to MLB? Is it just labor issues or something else? The INTENTION of the Congress is all that matter.

      • Roger Moore - Sep 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        Labor and team moves are both affected by anti-trust law. And San Jose’s anti-trust argument is crap. The chronology goes something like this:

        1922: In Federal Baseball, US Supreme Court rules that baseball is not subject to federal anti-trust rules because the only inter-state commerce involved is players moving from one state to another to participate in games. The case involves the owners of a defunct Federal League team suing MLB for acting in restraint of free trade by trying to drive the Federal League out of business.

        1953: In Toolson v. New York Yankeed, the Supreme Court upholds the anti-trust exemption on stare decisis (let the decision stand) grounds, this time in reference to the reserve clause. It says that ending the anti-trust exemption through the courts would retroactively make actions by MLB illegal, but accepts that Congress can end the exemption legislatively.

        1972: In Flood v. Kuhn, the Supreme Court again upholds the anti-trust exemption on stare decisis grounds. The decision again states that the Supreme Court won’t overrule the court created exemption, but it will accept legislative action to apply anti-trust law to MLB.

        1998: Congress passes, and President Clinton signs, the Curt Flood Act, which subjects baseball to anti-trust law only as it applies to labor law.

        So there are three Supreme Court cases that say MLB is exempt from anti-trust law. Federal Baseball, the original case, applies specifically to cases of leagues and teams colluding to put other teams at a disadvantage. Toolson and Flood applied to labor law, but relied on Federal Baseball as the basis of the anti-trust exemption. The Curt Flood Act followed up on the Supreme Court’s statement that they would accept legislative action to apply anti-trust law to MLB, but explicitly did it only for labor law*. That means that the parts of the anti-trust exemption that apply to non-labor actions, like MLB preventing teams from moving, still apply.

        * This means that the event of MLB imposing bargaining terms after an impasse in bargaining, the players could now decertify the MLBPA and sue MLB on anti-trust grounds. It doesn’t look as important now as it did in 1998, when memories of the 1994-5 labor action were fresh in people’s memories.

      • righthandofjustice - Sep 7, 2013 at 8:07 PM

        First thing, San Jose’s statement was in response to MLB’s motion to dismiss the case. To me it is very clear it can’t be dismissed or else the previous antitrust cases against MLB would not have gone to the Congress.

        Now, the argument is what exactly does the antitrust “exemption” granted to MLB almost a century ago cover? I think there can be arguments on both sides but don’t forget “Congress can end the exemption legislatively.” You wrote that yourself too. It is all up to the Congress to decide.

  2. MyTeamsAllStink - Sep 7, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    move them to Las Vegas.

  3. cackalackyank - Sep 7, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Not a legal beagle. Just wondering if San Jose can agrue that its citizen’s are being denied direct (convenient) access to live major league baseball by MLB’s antitrust status…and the connection of that status to the A’s inabilty to move with out SF agreement.

    • Roger Moore - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      They can argue that, but they don’t have a legal right or expectation of access to MLB, so that argument doesn’t give the judge any legal reason to do anything.

      • bigdicktater - Sep 7, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        They can also park for $4 at the station, ride Caltrain to within 2 blocks of AT & T Park for $18, as I did two weeks ago, and enjoy a MLB game at one of the best venues in the nation. And the Giants win the World Series every other year. What’s not to like about that?

  4. globalwork90 - Sep 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    @Loise, you make $27h…good for you! I make up to $85h working from home. My story is that I quit working at shoprite to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $45h to $85h…heres a good example of what i’m doing,go to this site home tab for more detail—>>> http://goo.gl/0oImC3

    • hcf95688 - Sep 7, 2013 at 10:44 PM

      Yes, but you and Loise are whores.

  5. butchg1965 - Sep 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    I’ve read elsewhere that San Jose’s best chance of establishing standing is to argue that MLB is guilty of “tortious interference” with respect to San Jose’s intended business dealings with the A’s. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference). I’m no lawyer, but a couple attorney friends of mine indicated that this was a relatively strong argument and could prevail. I don’t think San Jose’s position is as weak as Calcaterra indicates, but he’s right about one thing. If San Jose can establish standing, then MLB is in a world of hurt in terms of their ability to protect their anti-trust exemption. I don’t think they would ever allow it to get to trial and would quickly settle with San Jose and allow the A’s to begin plans to move. Just my $0.02

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