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Lewis v. National Football League

146 F.R.D. 5, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16892 (1992)

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Lewis v. National Football League

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

146 F.R.D. 5, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16892 (1992)

Facts

Albert Lewis and another professional football player (the players) (plaintiffs) brought an action against the National Football League and its member teams (collectively, NFL) (defendants), purporting to represent a class of football players seeking a determination that the NFL’s first-refusal/compensation system restricted player mobility and violated antitrust laws. The players were represented by law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges (Weil). Weil also represented the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) in a lawsuit against various football players, including 20 proposed-class members, alleging that the players violated their NFLPA licensing agreements by signing licensing contracts with NFL Properties. The players moved for class certification. The NFL argued that Weil’s conflict in both representing and being adverse to the 20 proposed-class members precluded a finding that the lawyers for the proposed class were adequate. Weil indicated that the players were willing to amend their class-certification request to exclude NFL players who had been or might be sued by the NFLPA for breach of contract. Weil noted that the exclusion would not be inequitable because the players’ breaches of their NFLPA agreements had damaged the licensing system that funded litigation challenging player-movement restrictions.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lamberth, J.)

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