According to a report from Associated Press a federal judge on Monday ordered an end to the NFL lockout, giving the players an early victory in their fight with the owners over how to divide the $9 billion business.U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said she was swayed by the players’ argument that that the lockout, now in its second month, was causing irreparable harm to their careers.
The plaintiffs “have made a strong showing that allowing the League to continue their ‘lockout’ is presently inflicting, and will continue to inflict, irreparable harm upon them, particularly when weighed against the lack of any real injury that would be imposed on the NFL by issuing the preliminary injunction,” Nelson wrote.
The NFL promised an immediate appeal.
“We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals,” the league said. “We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.”
Owners imposed the lockout after talks broke down March 11 and the players disbanded their union. A group of players filed the injunction request along with a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the league.
The owners argued it was their right to institute the lockout and suggested Nelson didn’t have jurisdiction while the National Labor Relations Board considers an unfair labor charge filed by the league that players didn’t negotiate in good faith.
Nelson disagreed, and said the NLRB proceeding shouldn’t be used to affect the court case here.
Nelson heard arguments on the injunction at a hearing on April 6 and ordered the two sides to resume mediation while she was considering her decision. The owners and players, who failed to reach consensus after 16 days of mediated talks earlier this year, met over four days with a federal magistrate but did not announce any progress on solving the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.
They are not scheduled to meet again until May 16, four days after another judge holds a hearing on whether players should get damages in their related fight with owners over some $4 billion in broadcast revenue.
I don’t know if things just got better or worse… I guess we’ll soon find out.