Players' two suits consolidated into one
Lawyers representing the locked-out NBA players have consolidated the two antitrust lawsuits filed last week into one complaint filed in district court in Minnesota. The move, according to the players' lead lawyer, David Boies, is expected to "substantially expedite the case."
The players originally filed two complaints, one in Minnesota and another in Northern California, but Monday the players filed a voluntary dismissal to terminate the latter case. The players from the terminated case, along with a handful of new names, then were added to the case in Minnesota, which now will represent all NBA players. Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who was the lead plaintiff in the Northern California complaint, is now the lead plaintiff in the Minnesota case.
"We thought it would probably move faster in Minnesota," Boies said Monday. "The docket is less congested."
Judge Patrick J. Schultz has been assigned to the case. The NBA has until Dec. 5 to respond. Shortly afterward, a conference will be scheduled.
The NBA, which has its own ongoing lawsuit against the players filed in August in New York's Southern District court, blasted the move in a statement from the league's general counsel, Rick Buchanan, who suggested the move out of Northern California was motivated by a displeasure with the assignment to district court judge Samuel Conti and the unappealing three-month wait for a conference. Buchanan also called Boies' move "inappropriate shopping for a forum that he can only hope will be friendlier to his baseless legal claims."
Boies said the league's tough talk and rigid stance make it "a waste of time to make a telephone call" to begin settlement talks, which is how the NFL lockout was resolved during the summer.
The sides have not had any discussions since the players' union was dissolved last week, Boies said, adding that the NBA has yet to show a willingness to talk. He hopes the legal process will lead to court-ordered negotiations, presided over by a magistrate. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan held that role in the NFL talks. Said Boies, "This is a case that ought to be settled."