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Garber v. office of Comm'r of Baseball

United States District Court, S.D. New York

September 22, 2014

FERNANDA GARBER, MARC LERNER, DEREK RASMUSSEN, and GARRETT TRAUB, representing themselves and all other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL, et al., Defendants

Page 335

For Plaintiffs: Edward A. Diver, Esq., Howard I. Langer, Esq., Peter E. Leckman, Esq., Langer Grogan & Diver, P.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Kevin M. Costello, Esq., Gary E. Klein, Esq., Klein Kavanagh Costello, LLP, Boston, Massachusetts; Michael Morris Buchman, Esq., John A. Ioannou, Esq., Pomerantz Haudek Block Grossman & Gross LLP, New York, New York; Alex Schmidt, Esq., Mary Jane Fait, Esq., Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, New York, New York; Robert LaRocca, Esq., Kohn, Swift & Graf, P.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; J. Douglas Richards, Esq., Jeffrey Dubner, Esq., Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, PLLC, New York, New York.

For Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, Major League Baseball Enterprises Inc., MLB Advanced Media L.P., MLB Advanced Media, Inc., Athletics Investment Group, LLC, The Baseball Club of Seattle, L.L.P., Chicago White Sox, Ltd., Colorado Rockies Baseball Club, Ltd., The Phillies, Pittsburgh Baseball, Inc., and San Francisco Baseball Associates, L.P., Defendants: Bradley I. Ruskin, Esq., Carl Clyde Forbes, Esq., Helene Debra Jaffe, Esq., Jennifer R. Scullion, Esq., Robert Davis Forbes, Esq., Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, New York; Thomas J. Ostertag, Esq., Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, New York, New York.

For Comcast Corporation, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, L.P., Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic L.P., Comcast SportsNet California, LLC, and Comcast SportsNet Chicago, LLC, Defendants: Arthur J. Burke, Esq., James W. Haldin, Esq., Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York, New York.

Page 336

OPINION AND ORDER

Shira A. Scheindlin, United States District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 8, 2014, I denied defendants' joint motion for summary judgment in Laumann v. National Hockey League and Garber v. Major League Baseball.[1] I ruled that the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and other entities related to Major League Baseball (" MLB Defendants" ) were not shielded from antitrust liability by the well-established " baseball exemption." On August 27, 2014, the MLB Defendants moved to certify an interlocutory appeal on that ruling. On September 8, 2014, Comcast filed a letter on behalf of all television defendants involved in the Garber case (" Television Defendants" ), joining the MLB Defendants' motion.[2] For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

II. APPLICABLE LAW

A. The Baseball Exemption

Because my August 8, 2014 opinion discusses the baseball exemption at length,[3] I summarize it only briefly here. In 1922, in Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, the Supreme Court held that " the business [of] giving exhibitions of baseball" was not subject to the Sherman Act.[4] Since then, the exemption has been upheld by the Supreme Court numerous times, most recently in Flood v. Kuhn, where it explained that the exemption, despite being " an aberration," [5] should be modified by " congressional, and not judicial, action." [6] In 1998, Congress passed the Curt Flood Act, which effectively removed employment-related agreements from the baseball exemption. The Act did not alter the applicability of the antitrust laws to " any conduct, acts, practices, or agreements other than . . . employment of

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major league baseball players." ...


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