No Expedited NASL Lawsuit: Early Fall 2019 Trial Date Likely

NASLWe won’t see the NASL lawsuit against U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS over alleged antitrust until early fall 2019 at the earliest, as a U.S. federal judge scheduled the end of discovery for April 30, 2019.

NASL and its attorneys had sought expedited discovery in pursuit of a December trial date — an extraordinarily unrealistic request. The wheels of justice do indeed turn slowly, and a scheduling date of a year in the future is the norm in federal court, no matter the scope of the case. And, in the case of a NASL lawsuit  suing USSF and MLS, we’re talking about a pretty major case, including document review for 25 years of business dealings, at least 50-60 depositions, and plenty of expert witness prep and interviews. After the end of discovery, there will be plenty of time for pretrial motions, requiring answers and more prep time. The request for expedited discovery and trial was pretty much doomed from the beginning. From Law360:

“I understand and am sympathetic to your position, and I’ll try and expedite this as much as possible, but it’s a complicated case and I don’t think you can cut off discovery to meet some arbitrary deadline,” Judge [U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven L. ] Tiscione told attorneys for NASL….

An attorney for U.S. Soccer, Lawrence E. Buterman of Latham & Watkins LLP, had argued setting a schedule that could see the trial take place in May was unrealistic, given that discovery could involve nearly 60 depositions and 25 years worth of records, not to mention expert discovery.

“To set a trial-ready date in May will in essence gut ourselves,” Buterman said.

NASL argued that the discovery burden would be lessened given all of the disclosures made in its unsuccessful bid for a preliminary injunction, and proposed limiting the deposition count to no more than 10 per side.

For NASL, it probably means that the 2019 season and maybe the 2020 season will be scrapped as well. The league is down to three teams — New York Cosmos, Jacksonville Armanda and Miami FC — and with the chance the league could walk away from the case with virtually nothing, raising money and adding franchises would be a monumental task. And with Rocco Commisso’s offer to bring in $500 million to revive NASL rejected by U.S. Soccer Federation officials, the paths forward for NASL teams are very limited.

The core of the lawsuit: NASL is arguing that U.S. Soccer Federation conspired with MLS to irreparably harm the NASL by demoting it to Division III and raising USL to Division II status, with professional league standards (PLS) preventing NASL from reaching Division I status. While the NASL has cleared an initial hurdle in showing that the league was indeed harmed by the demotion, it wasn’t enough for a court to reinstate Division II status for 2018, leading to the current situation.

Image courtesy NASL.

RELATED STORIES: Expedited Schedule Needed to Preserve 2019 NASL Season: LawyersUSSF: Thanks, But No Thanks to Commisso $500M NASL Revival OfferNASL Adds MLS to USSF LawsuitNASL Scraps 2018 Season; Three Teams to NASLNASL Appeal of USSF Demotion DeniedLegal Battle Between NASL, U.S. Soccer Intensifies; Jacksonville Armada Shifts to NPSL, But Doesn’t Quit NASLNASL Moves to International Soccer CalendarBest of 2017, #2: Trials and Tribulations of NASLNASL Appeal to be Heard FridayMiami FC in Limbo as Decision on NASL AwaitsBad News for NASL: Deltas, FC Edmonton Close ShopNorth Carolina FC Departs NASL for USLPalmer: Jacksonville Armada Without a LeagueSan Francisco Deltas Uncertain for 2018NASL to Appeal Legal Defeat on 2018 Division II StatusNASL Lawsuit Fails to Retain Division II Status for 2018NASL Preliminary Injunction Hearing Set for TuesdayNASL Lawsuit Alleges That SUM Tried to Shut Down CosmosCommisso Blasts US Soccer’s Gulati, Calls for ResignationNASL Calls for Preliminary Injunction to SurviveNASL Lawsuit Challenges US Soccer Over Loss of Division II StatusUSSF Will Not Extend NASL’s Division II Status into 2018

, , ,

August Publications