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ATP Tour, Inc. v. Deutscher Tennis Bund

Delaware Supreme Court
91 A.3d 554 (2014)


Delaware membership corporation ATP Tour, Inc. (codefendant), changed the schedule and format of its global tennis tour to downgrade the Hamburg tournament from the highest to the second tier and move it from spring to summer season. The two ATP members who owned and operated the Hamburg tournament, Deutscher Tennis Bund and Qatar Tennis Federation (collectively, the federations) (plaintiffs), objected and sued ATP and six of its directors (codefendants) alleging antitrust violations and breach of fiduciary duty. ATP prevailed and sought recovery of its attorneys’ fees under a fee-shifting bylaw it adopted in 2006. The federations agreed to be bound by ATP’s bylaws, as amended from time to time, when they joined as members. The federal district court denied the request for fees, reasoning that the antitrust laws preempt fee-shifting agreements in cases alleging antitrust violations. But the appellate court reversed and remanded for the district court to determine whether the fee-shifting bylaw was enforceable under Delaware law before reaching the preemption issue. The district court certified the question for the Delaware Supreme Court to answer.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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