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City of San Jose v. Office of the Comm'r of Baseball

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 15, 2015

CITY OF SAN JOSE; CITY OF SAN JOSE AS SUCCESSOR AGENCY TO THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY OF THE CITY OF SAN JOSE; THE SAN JOSE DIRIDON DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF BASEBALL, an unincorporated association, DBA Major League Baseball; ALLAN HUBER SELIG, " Bud," Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California August 12, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 5:13-cv-02787-RMW. Ronald M. Whyte, Senior District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Antitrust / Baseball Exemption

The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the City of San Jose's antitrust action regarding the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball's delay in deciding whether to approve the Oakland Athletics' move to San Jose, which is within the exclusive operating territory of the San Francisco Giants.

The panel held that the baseball industry's historic exemption from the antitrust laws, upheld in Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258, 92 S.Ct. 2099, 32 L.Ed.2d 728 (1972), barred San Jose's antitrust claim regarding franchise relocation under the Sherman and Clayton Acts and state law. The panel held that under Portland Baseball Club, Inc. v. Kuhn, 491 F.2d 1101 (9th Cir. 1972), Flood is not limited to baseball's " reserve clause." Rather, antitrust claims against Major League Baseball's franchise relocation policies are in the heartland of those precluded by Flood' s rationale.

Joseph W. Cotchett (argued), Philip L. Gregory (argued), Frank C. Damrell, Jr., Anne Marie Murphy, Camilo Artiga-Purcell of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP, Burlingame, California, and Richard Doyle, Nora Frimann of the Office of the City Attorney, San Jose, California for Appellants.

John W. Keker (argued), Paula L. Blizzard, R. Adam Lauridsen, Thomas E. Gorman of Keker & Van Nest LLP, San Francisco, California, and Bradley I. Ruskin of Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, New York, and Scott P. Cooper, Sarah Kroll-Rosenbaum, Jennifer L. Roche, Shawn S. Ledingham, Jr. of Proskauer Rose LLP, Los Angeles, California for Appellees.

Before: Alex Kozinski, Barry G. Silvermanand Richard R. Clifton, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Kozinski.

OPINION

Page 687

KOZINSKI, Circuit Judge:

The City of San Jose steps up to the plate to challenge the baseball industry's 92-year old exemption from the antitrust laws. It joins the long line of litigants that have sought to overturn one of federal law's most enduring anomalies.

I. Background

Major League Baseball's (MLB)[1] constitution requires that each ...


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