Monday, August 31, 2015
The district court granted MLB an initial victory in the Chen case last year, determining that FanFest was not subject to the FLSA and therefore was immune from the federal minimum wage and overtime requirements. Now, in a recent decision issued earlier this month, MLB has scored yet another victory with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s finding that the FLSA does not apply to FanFest.
However, while the Chen decision certainly represents an important decision with respect to the rights of FanFest volunteers, the appellate court’s recent opinion appears unlikely to have a significant impact on the other minimum-wage lawsuits pending against the league. Therefore, the various lawsuits challenging both MLB’s minor league and scout pay practices remain very much alive despite the recent rulings in the FanFest case.
The appellate court based its recent decision in the FanFest case on a relatively obscure provision in the FLSA, Section 213(a)(3), which states that seasonal “amusement or recreational establishments” — typically those that operate seven months or less per year — are not subject to the law’s minimum wage or overtime provisions.
In particular, MLB had argued that the 2013 FanFest at issue in the case qualified as a seasonal establishment under Section 213(a)(e) since it lasted five days, and clearly provided patrons with amusement or recreational services. Thus, MLB argued, FanFest was immune from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
While many fans are aware that baseball is generally exempt from antitrust law, fewer realize that courts have adopted widely divergent views regarding the extent to which MLB’s operations are actually shielded from the law. For instance, just because MLB is generally immune from antitrust law does not mean that a court would necessarily give the league free reign to engage in anti-competitive practices in areas completely unrelated to professional baseball (such as if, for example, MLB Advanced Media — the league’s digital content distribution company — were to enter into a price-fixing scheme with other non-sports-related, Internet-streaming-video service providers).
Courts have traditionally disagreed regarding where to draw the line between MLB’s exempt and non-exempt conduct, and thus are deeply divided over the extent to which they will allow antitrust lawsuits to proceed against MLB. As a practical matter, then, anyone wishing to sue MLB under antitrust law may be able to do so – despite the league’s antitrust exemption – so long as they file their case in the right court…
That having been said, there may be some cases where this sort of forum shopping is not possible. In the San Jose lawsuit against MLB, for instance, the city had to file its case in a local court, even though California judges have traditionally adopted a broad view of baseball’s exemption.
In contrast, the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the recently filed suit challenging MLB’s scout hiring and pay practices wisely elected to file the case in New York, a jurisdiction that has historically viewed the exemption much more narrowly (as reflected in the decisions discussed above involving MLB’s television broadcasting and umpire relations). As a result, it would not be surprising if the New York court allows the antitrust portion of the case to move forward, despite baseball’s exemption.
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Who would ever believe teams would collude to suppress pay?
In a new class action lawsuit filed last week in New York federal court, former Kansas City Royals scout Jordan Wyckoff contends that MLB teams have unlawfully agreed not to compete with one another for the services of their amateur and professional scouts. As a result, the suit – Wyckoff v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball – asserts that a number of MLB scouts currently make less than the minimum wage and are not paid overtime, even when working more than 40 hours in a given week.
Wyckoff alleges that these practices not only violate the FLSA, but that they fail to comply with both federal and state antitrust law as well.
Wyckoff’s complaint (available here) begins by accusing MLB and its teams of forming an illegal conspiracy to decrease the competition for scouts. In particular, the lawsuit contends that MLB prevents its teams from negotiating with or hiring away any scout currently under contract with another franchise, unless that team has expressly granted the scout permission to talk with other clubs. Wyckoff asserts that teams will typically only grant permission in cases where the new franchise would be giving the scout a promotion (such as by hiring another team’s area scout as one of its cross-checkers), and alleges that even then teams have been known to fire a scout simply for requesting permission to talk to another club.
Similarly, the lawsuit also notes that whenever a high-level executive is hired away from one franchise by another — such as when the Padres hired A.J. Preller from Texas last year — the two teams will often agree that the departing executive will not bring other employees (including scouts) with him from his former employer.
Monday, July 06, 2015
See, when someone, say, fellow SB Nation “blogger” Grant Brisbee, posts something as innocuous as a Vine of a silly happening during a baseball game—I have no idea what it was as you can see below—the post is targeted for removal because By Jove! One of these Internet Types is stealing our banwebs! Delete the pictures and return the stolen files, although it was probably something that never would have made it onto any of MLB’s social media accounts which are notoriously ill-equipped for sharing content on the new media platform which functions on instantaneous connectivity upon which they are found….
Now what we should not do is argue for the right to set up our own little broadcasting channels in order to subvert the arm of MLB Advanced Media, who are, admittedly, trying to figure out how best to navigate this ever-changing new media network. What we should do, though, is read about how the league is trying desperately to hold onto an outdated model of ubiquitous market control in an era where television networks—television networks!—have learned to let an audience with money in its pockets use and share their product amongst themselves for free advertising.
We should wonder why MLB refuses to make 90% of their highlight videos embeddable until a day after the game airs, when studies have regularly shown that emotion is one of the most powerful tools by which to make online content go viral. Emotion, which by the way easily wanes after Nelson Cruz’ hilarious awkward slide home gathers almost 24 hours between its original posting and its availability to be embedded through MLB’s official channels. They are literally leaving money on the table.
The real question the court needs to answer is how to pronounce “GIFs”!
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
man met Reyes after Friday night’s Gwinnett Braves-Columbus Clippers game and agreed to go to a bar with him.
The woman said Reyes then paid for a hotel room because he didn’t want the women to drive after they had been drinking. One of the women fell asleep upon entering the room, and Reyes allegedly pinned the other to the bed and forced her to have intercourse.
The woman later called 911 and reported the incident. Court records show rape and kidnapping charges were filed Saturday.
Reyes, 24, is out on bond and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 2.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Baseball and hockey fans can seek to change the way professional games are aired, a judge said in allowing them to sue as a group over claims that Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League violate antitrust law in their control of television and Internet broadcast rights.
Fans sued the leagues, individual clubs and regional TV sports networks, along with Comcast Corp. and DirecTV LLC, claiming the practice of dividing live game broadcasts into exclusive territories, protected by local blackouts, is anti-competitive.
“Every class member has suffered an injury, because every class member, as a consumer in the market for baseball or hockey broadcasting, has been deprived of an option—a la carte channels—that would have been available absent the territorial restraints,” U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York said in an opinion Thursday.
Thursday’s ruling focused on whether the fans can sue as a unified class. Scheindlin said they could but, in a victory for the leagues, barred them from seeking money damages as a group.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Former Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo (2003-2006) has been charged in court with kidnapping, according to multiple reports out of the Dominican Republic.
Lugo last professionally played baseball for los Leones del Escogido, and last played stateside for the Braves in 2011.
Lugo’s arrest warrant was issued in the cities of La Romana and Santo Domingo for kidnapping and the posession of fire arms. According to the paper, Lugo and four men held their hostage and his girlfriend at gunpoint, demanding money that had allegedly been invested in a business venture.
A rough translation of the article includes how Lugo had, “always been willing to talk about it, assuring him that the money invested in the company, as well as that of other investors, was sure.”
Does A-Rod even exist?
According to two sources familiar with the situation, when Rodriguez goes deep with number 660, the Yankees will have a precise period of time — two weeks, as per one of the sources — to declare this as a marketable milestone. If they were to do this, then Rodriguez would sign over the rights to his image and associated branding for the price of $6 million.
The same drill would go into effect should A-Rod tie Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Bonds (762), as well as pass Bonds with his 763rd homer.
But the Yankees have no intention of making such a declaration, as they feel A-Rod’s rich history of illegal performance-enhancing drug usage renders his accomplishments unmarketable. Once the Yankees formalize this decision, then A-Rod has a set period of time — 30 days, according to one source — to file a grievance. Though Rodriguez has shied away from publicly discussing this, every indication is that he will challenge the Yankees’ interpretation of the side deal.
Major League Baseball will support the Yankees’ efforts in such a grievance, and the Players Association will lead the charge for A-Rod. Independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, the same man who reduced Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension to the entirety of the 2014 season, would hear the case.
The Yankees must prove they utilized good faith in declining to notate A-Rod’s homer as a milestone, and the Yankees already are taking precautions to avoid giving the Rodriguez camp more ammunition.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
$55 million of your tax dollars, all for this.
or obstructing justice, a development that could help the former San Francisco Giants slugger win a place in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
The decision by an 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals leaves prosecutors without a single conviction against Bonds, who was the subject of a years-long investigation into illegal steroid use and was tried in 2011 in a federal court in San Francisco. The jury hung on perjury charges and convicted Bonds only of obstruction for giving a long-winded answer.
In an unsigned 10-1 ruling, the court said there was insufficient evidence that Bonds’ rambling reply was material and that he may not be retried….
“In this particular case, we must determine whether a single truthful but evasive or misleading answer could constitute evidence of obstruction of justice,” Judge N.R. Smith wrote in another concurrence, signed by three judges. “It could not.”
Congress could not have intended that the obstruction law apply so broadly, Smith said.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Leading off…..Roberts…..John Roberts….
For the first time in four decades, the U.S. Supreme Court will have an opportunity to reconsider baseball’s notorious exemption from antitrust law. On Wednesday, the city of San Jose, California filed an appeal with the nation’s highest court, asking it to overturn professional baseball’s nearly century-old immunity from the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The appeal is the latest step in the litigation surrounding the Oakland A’s proposed move to San Jose. Back in 2013, the city sued Major League Baseball claiming that the league’s failure to approve the A’s relocation violated federal antitrust law. The district court dismissed the lawsuit later that same year, concluding that baseball’s exemption shielded MLB’s relocation decisions from antitrust scrutiny. That decision was upheld earlier this year by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
While these lower courts were constrained by a series of Supreme Court precedents exempting baseball from the Sherman Act, the Supreme Court itself is not bound to follow the prior rulings. So San Jose is asking the Court to seize this opportunity to overturn baseball’s highly controversial antitrust immunity. Like any appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, however, the odds that the Court will agree to take San Jose’s appeal are rather slim.
San Jose is hoping to convince the Supreme Court to take the case by arguing that baseball’s antitrust exemption is an outdated doctrine that is harming the public interest in a variety of ways. In its Petition for A Writ of Certiorari – the formal name of an appeal to the Supreme Court – the city argues that none of the original legal justifications for the exemption remain.
Friday, April 03, 2015
In oral arguments over the preliminary injunction last week, one attorney for the rooftop owners, Thomas Lombardo, accused the Cubs of violating antitrust law, saying the team sought to manipulate ticket prices and to “bully” rooftop properties into selling out to the Cubs. He said the Cubs bought at least some stake in four of 16 rooftops and then altered plans to position signs in front of rooftops they don’t own.
But Cubs attorney Daniel Laytin said that misrepresents the relationship of the team to the rooftops. It is not one of competitor to competitor, he said, but of producer to distributor—the Cubs being the producers of baseball games and the rooftops selling views of games. Antitrust laws don’t apply in that kind of relationship, he said.
Kendall on Thursday also rejected the rooftops’ claim of an antitrust violation, including by pointing to a U.S. Supreme Court decision exempting major league baseball from antitrust laws.
Thursday, March 05, 2015
The New England Patriots, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays have all signed onto an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, according to the Huffington Post. They are among almost 400 companies - many of which are some of the biggest corporations in the country - to support the brief. The Supreme Court will hear a case on gay marriage on April 28 and is expected to make a determination by June.
All of these teams have strong histories on LGBT issues. The Patriots’ owner, Bob Kraft, supported LGBT rights years ago and the Patriots appeared at an LGBT fundraiser years before it was en vogue. The Giants were the first team to produce an It Gets Better video in 2011, sparking a string of other MLB teams to follow suit. That list included the Rays.
for his generous support.
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