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RADOVICH v. NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ET AL.

decided: February 25, 1957.

RADOVICH
v.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Minton, Harlan, Brennan

Author: Clark

[ 352 U.S. Page 446]

 MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

This action for treble damages and injunctive relief, brought under § 4 of the Clayton Act,*fn1 tests the application of the antitrust laws to the business of professional football. Petitioner Radovich, an all-pro guard formerly with the Detroit Lions, contends that the respondents*fn2

[ 352 U.S. Page 447]

     entered into a conspiracy to monopolize and control organized professional football in the United States, in violation of §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act;*fn3 that part of the conspiracy was to destroy the All-America Conference, a competitive professional football league in which Radovich once played; and that pursuant to agreement, respondents boycotted Radovich and prevented him from becoming a player-coach in the Pacific Coast League. Petitioner alleges that respondents' illegal conduct damaged him in the sum of $35,000, to be trebled as provided by the Act. The trial court, on respondents' motion, dismissed the cause for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The Court of Appeals affirmed, 231 F.2d 620, on the basis of Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200 (1922), and Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356 (1953), applying the baseball rule to all "team sports." It further found that even if such application was erroneous and that United States v. International Boxing Club, 348 U.S. 236 (1955), applied, Radovich had not grounded his claim on conduct of respondents which was "calculated to prejudice the public or unreasonably restrain interstate commerce." 231 F.2d, at 623. We granted certiorari, 352 U.S. 818, in order to clarify the application of the Toolson doctrine and determine whether the business of football comes within the scope of the Sherman Act. For the reasons hereafter stated we conclude that Toolson and Federal Baseball do not control;

[ 352 U.S. Page 448]

     that the respondents' activities as alleged are within the coverage of the antitrust laws; and that the complaint states a cause of action thereunder.

I.

Since the complaint was dismissed its allegations must be taken by us as true. It is, therefore, important for us to consider what Radovich alleged. Concisely the complaint states that:

1. Radovich began his professional football career in 1938 when he signed with the Detroit Lions, a National League club. After four seasons of play he entered the Navy, returning to the Lions for the 1945 season. In 1946 he asked for a transfer to a National League club in Los Angeles because of the illness of his father. The Lions refused the transfer and Radovich broke his player contract by signing with and playing the 1946 and 1947 seasons for the Los Angeles Dons, a member of the All-America Conference.*fn4 In 1948 the San Francisco Clippers, a member of the Pacific Coast League which was affiliated with but not a competitor of the National League, offered to employ Radovich as a player-coach. However, the National League advised that Radovich was black-listed and any affiliated club signing him would suffer severe penalties. The Clippers then refused to sign him in any position. This black-listing effectively prevented his employment in organized professional football in the United States.

2. The black-listing was the result of a conspiracy among the respondents to monopolize commerce in professional football among the States. The purpose of the conspiracy was to "control, regulate and dictate the terms upon which organized professional football shall be played throughout the United States" in violation of §§ 1 and 2 of the

[ 352 U.S. Page 449]

     Sherman Act. It was part of the conspiracy to boycott the All-America Conference and its players with a view to its destruction and thus strengthen the ...


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