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New England Patriots Football Club, Inc. v. University of Colorado

592 F.2d 1196 (1979)

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New England Patriots Football Club, Inc. v. University of Colorado

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

592 F.2d 1196 (1979)

Facts

Chuck Fairbanks was under contract until 1983 to perform as general manager and head coach of the New England Patriots (plaintiff), a professional football team in the National Football League. Fairbanks’s contract contained a provision prohibiting him from providing “services directly connected with football” to any entity other than the Patriots. In November 1978, the University of Colorado (the university) (defendant) approached Fairbanks to recruit him as the university’s head football coach. The parties negotiated in secret and came to an agreement. Fairbanks informed the Patriots’ owner, William Sullivan, that Fairbanks intended to leave the Patriots at the end of the 1978 season. Sullivan suspended Fairbanks. The Patriots sued the university for tortious interference with the Fairbanks-Patriots contract. The district court entered a preliminary injunction stopping the university from employing Fairbanks as head football coach. The university appealed. On appeal, Fairbanks was allowed to file an amicus brief in which he claimed that his contract did not preclude him from serving as the university’s coach and that an injunction was unwarranted or unfair for various reasons, including because the Patriots had fired him.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Aldrich, J.)

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