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Court quashes Raiders' lawsuit against NFL

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/07/03 14:53

Raiders owner Al Davis on Monday lost his final effort to collect financial damages stemming from his return to Oakland 12 years ago, a move marked by dozens of television blackouts, thousands of empty seats and millions of dollars in lost revenue. A unanimous California Supreme Court refused to revive the Raiders' lawsuit against the NFL, in which Davis alleged the league forced his move back to Oakland by refusing to cooperate in his attempt to get a new stadium built at Hollywood Park outside Los Angeles.

A Los Angeles jury in 2001 had rejected Davis' claims, but the trial judge, Robert C. Hubbell, threw out the verdict and ordered a new trial after several jurors accused two members of the panel of misconduct. An appellate court in 2005 restored the jury verdict, saying conflicting accounts of what happened in the jury room did not merit a new trial. Restricting its review to a narrow legal issue - whether the appellate court was correct in reviewing the competing juror accounts in the absence of a rationale being provided by Hubbell for his own ruling - the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate decision.

"We are pleased this lengthy litigation is finally over," said NFL executive vice president Joe Browne.

Jeff Birren, the Raiders' general counsel, said, "The Supreme Court ruled that because the judge failed to insert a couple of extra words of explanation, the Raiders should be denied a new trial. The Supreme Court's ruling is incomprehensible."

Davis had claimed more than $1 billion worth of damages from the NFL, but jurors didn't believe his account that the league forced his decision to move back to Oakland by imposing onerous terms before it would help build a new Hollywood Park stadium. The jury sided with the NFL, which argued Davis took the deal in Oakland because he thought it would turn out best for the team.

After the verdict was reached, Davis personally interviewed jurors and found some who were willing to sign statements saying a member of the panel was prejudiced against the Raiders. That juror, Joseph Abiog, maintained he had no bias, saying he only had joked that "I hate the Raiders" because he once lost a bet on the team in Las Vegas.

The Oakland contract has been disastrous both for the Raiders and taxpayers in the city and in Alameda County, as Raiders fans refused to buy all the pricey personal seat licenses and club seats that the deal's proponents had projected. The Raiders have fallen to among the lowest revenue-producing teams in the league, while the city and county have paid $236 million to cover the deal costs to date, a number that will increase until bonds used to rebuild McAfee Coliseum are retired in 2025.


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