Black v. National Football League Players Association

87 F. Supp. 2d 1 (2000)

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Black v. National Football League Players Association

United States District Court for the District of Columbia
87 F. Supp. 2d 1 (2000)

Facts

The collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) between the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association (union) (defendant) allowed NFL players to hire agents to help them negotiate the players’ individual contracts with NFL clubs. Agents had to be certified by the union, which required them to agree to arbitrate any discipline-related disputes with the union pursuant to the union’s arbitration process. The union’s process clearly stated that the union would select the arbitrator. The union certified William Black (plaintiff) as an agent in March 1995. In May 1999, the union’s disciplinary committee (committee) issued a complaint against Black. Black sued the union, alleging, among other things, that the union’s arbitration procedure violated the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) because allowing the union to select the arbitrator would result in an inherently biased proceeding. Black also moved for a temporary restraining order, which the district court denied. In July 1999, the committee proposed revoking Black’s agent certification for at least three years. Black continued to pursue his claim that allowing the union to select the arbitrator would violate the FAA and asked the court to appoint a neutral arbitrator. Black also amended his complaint to allege, among other things, that the union tortiously interfered with his business relationships by using the disciplinary complaint as a pretext to racially discriminate against him. The union moved for summary judgment, arguing that Black freely agreed to abide by the union’s arbitration process, including the union’s prerogative to select the arbitrator, and thus its arbitration process did not violate the FAA. The union also argued that the tortious-interference claim was preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) because it was inextricably intertwined with the CBA’s terms.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Robertson, J.)

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