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Morsani v. Major League Baseball

663 So. 2d 653 (1995)

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Morsani v. Major League Baseball

Florida District Court of Appeal

663 So. 2d 653 (1995)

Facts

Frank Morsani and the Tampa Bay Baseball Group (collectively, Morsani) (plaintiffs) filed a complaint against 60 parties, nearly all of which were Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs or club owners (collectively, the clubs) (defendants) for tortious interference with contractual and business relationships. The complaint alleged that over several years, Morsani sought to purchase an MLB team to play in Tampa Bay, a transaction that had to be approved by a large percentage of the clubs. Various club owners told Morsani that they would approve his purchase of the Minnesota Twins, and Morsani entered contractual and business relationships to build a baseball stadium and acquire an ownership interest in the Twins. Thereafter, the clubs allegedly conspired with each other and improperly prevented the consummation of a deal with the Twins’ owners. The clubs approached the Twins’ owners and demanded that they sell their interest to a third party and likewise told Morsani to assign his contract to the third party. When Morsani refused, the clubs threatened him that he “would never own an interest in a major league baseball team” unless he assigned his contract. Morsani complied based on the clubs’ promise to help him obtain another team. Later Morsani attempted to purchase the Texas Rangers. The clubs initially agreed to support and approve the Rangers deal but used improper means to cause the current owners of the Rangers to breach their agreements with Morsani in favor of a Texas investor. Similar events occurred to prevent Morsani from acquiring the Florida Marlins. The trial court dismissed the complaint as to the clubs, reasoning that the clubs were incapable of tortiously interfering with contractual and business relationships over which they had approval rights. Morsani appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ryder, J.)

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