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8th Circuit Court rules to allow NFL Lockout

The appeals court cited the union's decertification as central to its ruling.

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - The NFL lockout will remain in place as the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling on Friday to vacate a lower court's decision to have the lockout lifted.

As the decision was released, representatives from the league and the decertified players union were working toward a new collective bargaining agreement in New York.

"While we respect the court's decision, today's ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation," the NFL and the NFLPA said in a joint statement. "We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season."

The lockout began on March 12, hours after talks toward a new CBA broke down and the players' association decertified.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson granted the players an injunction to lift the lockout on April 25 because the players were suffering irreparable harm and the league filed an appeal. On April 29, the appellate court granted a temporary stay of that ruling while the full appeal was heard.

In a 54-page document released Friday, the appeals court -- in a 2-1 decision favoring the league -- cited the union's decertification as central to its ruling.

"In the court's view, the conflict between the league and the players ceased to be a 'labor dispute' subject to the [Norris-LaGuardia] Act when the NFLPA terminated its status as a union by disclaiming its role as the players' collective bargaining representative.

"The text of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the cases interpreting the term 'labor dispute' do not require the present existence of a union to establish a labor dispute. Whatever the precise limits of the phrase 'involving or growing out of a labor dispute,' this case does not press the outer boundary. The league and the players' union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement for almost 18 years prior to March 2011. They were engaged in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for approximately two years through March 11, 2011. At that point, the parties were involved in a classic 'labor dispute' by the players' own definition. Then, on a single day, just hours before the CBA's expiration, the union discontinued collective bargaining and disclaimed its status, and the players filed this action seeking relief concerning industry-wide terms and conditions of employment.

"We conclude that the injunction did not conform to the provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act... and we therefore vacate the district court's order."

It was not all good news for the league, as the ruling did state that the players' antitrust lawsuit can move forward.

Prominent players, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, filed the antitrust lawsuit against the league in the hours after the union decertified

Read the 8th Circuit Court’s full ruling here.


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