NASL, USSF Case Moves to Discovery

NASLA lawsuit alleging antitrust actions by United States Soccer Federation and MLS in denying the NASL Division II status for 2018 is now going to discovery in the Eastern District of New York.

The lawsuit seeks to strike down the American soccer pyramid under antitrust provisions, reinstating NASL Division II status. NASL lost attempts for an preliminary injunction that would have allowed it to play as a Division II league in 2018. Since then, several NASL teams have folded or jumped to Division II USL, leaving just three teams — New York Cosmos, Jacksonville Armada and Miami FC — as going concerns, participating in the 2018 National Premier Soccer League season.

In a press release from NASL, league officials said this: “In answering the complaint, the USSF and MLS both declined the opportunity to file a motion to dismiss.” And here is a statement from Interim Commissioner Rishi Sehgal:

“This clears the path for the NASL to obtain the discovery to prove our claims. Getting discovery from both the USSF and MLS is a critical point in the litigation process. Indeed, the USSF concedes in its answer that if the NASL can prove its allegations, we will have presented a valid claim against the USSF’s use of Professional League Standards to eliminate competition to MLS.”

In terms of courtroom proceedings, not filing a motion to dismiss is not unusual. Motions to dismiss, which come before discovery, tend to procedural in nature (addressing things like whether the complaint was filed in the correct venue, incorrect process serving,  etc.) and don’t usually address the original claims in any depth. They are rarely filed and rarely granted, and it would have been highly unusual for MLS and USSF to have filed one, according to the lawyers we consulted for this article. A motion for summary judgment, which comes after discovery, addresses the issues raised in discovery, with the basic argument being that even when presented the most positive light for the plaintiff, there’s no way the plaintiffs can prevail in court. Motion for summary judgment are frequently filed, and it’s not uncommon for a defendant to prevail at that time.

Image courtesy NASL.

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August Publications