Report: N.Y. AG has antitrust concerns with NFL lockout

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 7, 2011


ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is reportedly investigating whether the National Football League's ongoing lockout violates New York's antitrust law.

According to the Buffalo News, Schneiderman is the first state attorney general to launch such an inquiry.

The attorney general says the lockout is threatening the economy of his state. Three teams -- the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and New York Jets -- typically hold their training camps in upstate New York.

The 2011 NFL season is tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 8. However, the failure to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement has led to a lockout, which may, depending on how long it lasts, shorten or cancel the entire season.

In 2008, NFL owners unanimously voted not to continue with the CBA with the National Football League Players Association following the 2010 season.

Just before the CBA expired on March 3, both the players and the league owners agreed to extend negotiations by one week.

However, talks broke down and on March 11, the union formally decertified. A group of 10 players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league.

In response to the decertification, the league officially locked out the players.

This week, the head of Schneiderman's antitrust bureau sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the investigation.

"Many New York public and private institutions depend heavily on the NFL training camp and regular season games to generate revenue," Assistant Attorney General Richard L. Schwartz wrote Goodell, according to the Buffalo newspaper.

Hotels, restaurants and retailers are among the thousands of New Yorkers who will suffer, he wrote.

The Buffalo News reported that Schneiderman's office plans to investigate the lockout under the state's Donnelly Act. The law punishes conduct that harms competition and allows for damages to be tripled.

A spokesman for the NFL told the newspaper that its lawyers are reviewing the attorney general's letter and will respond.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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