The California Supreme Court on July 2, 2007 ruled against the Raiders in their lawsuit with the National Football League, ending a case that began in 1999.
The Supreme Court ruling affirmed a 2005 decision by a state appeals court that denied the Raiders a retrial in their $1.2 billion lawsuit against the NFL.
The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995 after spending 13 years in Los Angeles. After the move, the team sued the NFL and then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, claiming the league interfered with its plans to move from the L.A. Coliseum to a new stadium at Hollywood Park.
The NFL won a 9-3 verdict in 2001, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Hubbell ordered a new trial after accusations surfaced that one juror was biased against the Raiders and managing general partner Al Davis (right).
The juror reportedly said he joked that he hated the Raiders because he had once wagered on the team and lost. The juror said he made the comment as a way to ease tensions during deliberations and that none of his colleagues took the joke seriously.
"Had the juror not been biased, the NFL would not have won the case,” Raiders attorney Larry Feldman told The Associated Press on June 8, 2005.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals in February 2005 overturned the lower court's decision granting a retrial, and California’s highest court unanimously ruled July 2, 2007 that the verdict against the Raiders stands.
The Supreme Court reportedly also declined to order a new trial based on accusations that a second juror, who was a lawyer, gave other jurors information about the law that the judge did not provide.
The state’s highest court reportedly said it had little choice but to give the league the victory because the trial court judge didn’t provide any details on the alleged misconduct.
Speaking to reporters on July 2, Raiders attorney Jeff Biren called the ruling "incomprehensible."
NFL spokesperson Joe Browne said: "We are pleased that this lengthy litigation is finally over."
Raiders Request Retrial
The team, according to a news release, is seeking to "recover damages from the NFL based on allegations that the league destroyed the Raiders' opportunity to remain in Los Angeles, and that it assumed control over the market without compensating the Raiders organization for its earlier payments to acquire the rights to play in Los Angeles."
The Raiders lost a jury trial on a 9-3 vote in 2001, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Hubbell ordered a new trial becuase of jury misconduct. The 2nd District Court of Appeals in February 2005 overturned the lower court's decision granting a retrial.
In the brief, the Raiders contend that the Court of Appeals should have asked the trial court judge for more information before it decided to overturn the judge's decision granting a retrial.
The case reportedly could be heard before the state Supreme Court within the next year.
Raiders Get Reprieve
All seven justices voted to review the February 2005 decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles that found allegations of juror misconduct did not warrant a new trial.
The Supreme Court did not announce when it would hear the case.
The NFL won a 9-3 verdict in 2001, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Hubbell ordered a new trial after accusations surfaced that one juror was biased against the Raiders and managing general partner Al Davis. The appeals court overturned Hubbell’s ruling, and the Raiders appealed to the state Supreme Court.
"Had the juror not been biased, the NFL would not have won the case,” Raiders attorney Larry Feldman told The Associated Press on June 8.
The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995 after playing 13 seasons in Los Angeles. After the move, the team sued the NFL and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, claiming the league interfered with its plans to move from the L.A. Coliseum to a new stadium at Hollywood Park.
L.A. Court Sacks Raiders
The three-judge panel also affirmed a 2001 jury verdict that the league didn't interfere with the team's negotiations to build a stadium at Hollywood Park in suburban Inglewood in the mid-1990s. The appeals court also reinstated the jury's decision that the Raiders didn't own the territorial rights to the NFL franchise in L.A and thus weren't entitled to compensation from the league after it returned to Oakland.
Raiders attorney Larry Feldman told reporters that the team would appeal. "We are very disappointed and firmly believe that the trial court was correct when it granted the Raiders a new trial and are optimistic that the California Supreme Court will affirm the trial court's decision," Feldman told The Associated Press.
Said NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello: "We are pleased by the court's unanimous decision and hope that it brings this long-running litigation to a close."
After the team returned to Oakland in 1995, the Raiders sued the NFL and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue -- claiming that the league interfered with their plans to move from the Los Angeles Coliseum to a new stadium in Inglewood by insisting that the new facility also have a second NFL team as its primary tenant.
While the jury in the 2001 trial voted 9-3 in favor of the NFL, the Raiders successfully argued that the case should be re-tried because of jury misconduct. On Feb. 23, 2005, a Court of Appeal panel disagreed with the lower court ruling and reinstated the jury verdict.
Judge Grants New Trial
By a 9-3 vote in May 2001, a jury rejected the Raiders claims that the league sabotaged the team's plans to build a stadium in suburban Inglewood and that the team still owned the NFL rights to the Los Angeles market. One more vote for the Raiders would have resulted in a hung jury. (Only nine votes are needed for a verdict in a California civil case.)
According to court affidavits submitted by Raiders attorneys, juror Joseph Abiog said during deliberations that he "hated the Raiders and Raiders owner Al Davis" and that he would never award any damages to the team. Another juror wrote on butcher paper "statements of law for the jury to refer to and use," and taped them to the wall - a violation of the basic rule that jurors get the law in a case from the judge only, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Two of the five jurors who signed affidavits reportedly voted for the NFL.
"This is a just and correct ruling," Raiders chief executive Amy Trask told the Los Angeles Times. "A number of jurors stepped forward and told our lawyers that, were it not for the misconduct, we would have won that trial. The NFL was celebrating too soon."
Hubbell, who presided over the first trial, has scheduled a Dec. 3 hearing to set a new trial date. The league could appeal Hubbell's latest ruling to a state appeals court in Los Angeles.
Jury Rejects Raiders
A Superior Court jury voted 9-3 on May 21, 2001 for the NFL, rejecting breach of contract claims, unjust enrichment and other violations of the league constitution and bylaws. It also rejected that the NFL acted with "oppression", malice or fraud" in dealing with the team that returned to Oakland in 1995 after negotiations broke off for a new stadium at Hollywood Park in suburban Inglewood. The trial lasted 11 weeks, including four weeks of deliberation.
NFL Vice President Joe Browne told reporters after the verdict: "The jury upheld the NFL's position on all issues in this case. The truth regarding what happened is found in the Raiders' own June 23, 1995 media release announcing their decision to leave Los Angeles. It stated: 'The Raiders organization has chosen to relocate to Oakland.'"
Said Raiders attorney Joseph Alioto: "Obviously we are disappointed...but we do believe the evidence we presented cannot be disputed."
In the lawsuit, Raiders owner Al Davis (right) demanded more than $1 billion for the right to the Los Angeles market and to compensate the franchise for revenue allegedly lost because of the failed stadium deal. The Raiders also asked for unspecified punitive damges, claiming the league essentially discriminated against the team during their stadium negotiations.
The NFL countered that the league offered to do more for the Raiders financially than had ever been done for any team in league history. The league said it promised to waive $60 million in ticket revenue to help build the stadium and offered to hold at least two Super Bowls in Los Angeles if the Raiders agreed to a second-team option.
The Raiders claimed the NFL forced the team to leave Southern California by pushing for a second team at Hollywood Park. Davis said the second team would have crippled the Raiders financially when it came to selling luxury suites and building fan loyalty.
"No other team has been required to share a stadium like that," Alioto said.
The NFL claimed that Davis never made a commitment to Hollywood Park and only used the situation to get a better deal in Oakland, where he eventually accepted a deal for $63 million in upfront payments, loans and other benefits.
In 1982, the Raiders beat the NFL in an antitrust trial, allowing the franchise to move to Los Angeles. The Raiders based their latest round in court against the NFL on the terms of the settlement of the antitrust case. Awarded a sum, with interest, that ballooned to $64 million, the team agreed to accept $18 million in 1989. The Raiders claimed that waiving the remaining $46 million entitled them to keep the territorial rights of Los Angeles market.
The NFL's Brown said: "The evidence showed that the NFL had offered the Hollywood Park project more support than any other stadium project before or since. The finincial support simply was not enough to satisy the Raiders. They elected, instead, to abandon Los Angeles in 1995 for the up-front money and a promise of sellouts in Oakland."
According to published reports, the jury vote was 10-2 on the territorial claim and 9-3 on the Hollywood Park issue. Nine votes was the minimum for a verdict.
However, Judge Richard Hubbell also dismissed portions of the team's contention that it still owns the Los Angeles market.
Both parties claimed victory by Hubbell's ruling Sept. 1, 2000.
"The judge threw out most of the claims, and cut the heart out of what was left," said Doug Adler, an attorney representing the NFL, told The Associated Press.
The team said in a press release, in part: "The court ruled that the Raiders presented sufficient evidence to show that the NFL acted in bad faith and unfair dealing with the Raiders in destroying the Raiders' opportunity to build a new facility in Holloywood Park and drive the Raiders from the Los Angeles market, and breached their fiduciary duty to the Raiders."
The Raiders claim their win in a previous antitrust case against the NFL in 1982 gave them ownership to the Los Angeles market.
In his ruling, Hubbell found the antitrust case stated the opposite, that the "NFL as a whole owned the right to expand into the Los Angeles area," and "the Los Angeles opportunity represented an extremely valuable expansion possibility for the league."
According to the ruling, the Raiders can only win by showing the NFL constitution, bylaws and past practices prove the team is entitled to a cash payment.
The trial is expected to begin in March 2001.
Federal Judge Sacks Raiders, NFL
King said the dismissed claims could be heard in state court. The Raiders claimed victory and refiled the lawsuit the next day in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The new claim reasserts that the Raiders own territortial rights to the Los Angeles market. "We simply have to start over in state court," Raiders attorney Jack Quinn said. "The claims of the Raiders are still the same - they own control and have the rights to the Los Angeles market."
The Raiders refiled the suit without the antitrust allegations. Judge King dismissed the Raiders' claim that the NFL violated antitrust laws in 1994 when the league refused to facilitate the team's move from Los Angeles to Oakland by scheduling games there. King also rejected the Raiders' claim that the team owns the Los Angeles market, saying federal law did not apply to the case.
King said the Raiders were free to file the suit in state court, which the team did on March 3.
"We are delighted with the results," said Frank Rothman, an attorney representing the NFL. "It establishes what we have always contended -- that there are no antitrust violations involved in our actions with the Raiders.
Even if the Raiders win their new lawsuit against the NFL, it's unclear if the franchise would return to La-La-Land. The Raiders are under contract to play at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland through 2010. The team has sued Alameda County and the city of Oakland to invalidate the remaining 12 years of a 16-year lease. Also, it's unlikely the Raiders would relocate to Smogville without the promise of a new stadium. Raiders owner Al Davis returned the franchise to Oakland in 1995 because he didn't want to play any longer at the antiquated L.A. Coliseum.
The Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982. The league sued the franchise over a failed plan to return to Oakland in 1994, when the Northridge earthquake damaged the Los Angeles Coliseum earlier during the year. The NFL also sued the Raiders over revenue-sharing discrepancies after they went back to Oakland. The Raiders countersued, claiming the league blocked their 1994 move, interfered with the return to Oakland the following year and destroyed negotiations between the team and Hollywood Park for a new stadium.
Los Angeles has been without an NFL team since 1995, when the Raiders returned to Oakland and the Rams moved to St. Louis. The league reportedly could award an expansion franhise to Los Angeles as early as the week of March 15, at an owner's meeting in Phoenix. The league is considering bids from two Los Angeles groups and another in Houston for a new team that would begin play in 2002.
Judge Asks For Settlement
The Raiders contend in the lawsuit filed three years ago that the NFL interfered in a deal that would have kept the franchise in the Los Angeles area in a proposed stadium in Inglewood. The suit also alleges the Raiders own NFL territorial rights for Los Angeles.
The team returned to Oakland in 1995 after playing 13 seasons at the L.A. Coliseum. At present, two Los Angeles groups are competing with Houston for the NFL's 32nd franchise, expected to be awarded in March.