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NFL legal battle kicks off

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, speaks with the media after negotiations with the NFL involving a federal mediator in Washington, Tuesday, March 8, 2011 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

St. Paul, Minn. - Attorneys representing the NFL and 10 players continue laying out their cases today before District Court Judge Susan Nelson, who is hearing the players' request to have a preliminary injunction that would lift the league's lockout that began March 12.

Jim Quinn, arguing on the players' behalf, argued that the lockout was illegal because the NFL Players Association had decertified as a union on March 11 and the NFL's actions represented a group boycott that is prohibited by antitrust law.
NFL attorney David Boies countered that the league's actions were justified because the union essentially "flipped a switch" by ending collective bargaining talks early last month.

Boies also argued that Nelson didn't have jurisdiction in the case, citing the Norris-LaGuardia Act governing federal labor law. Boies also said the league's complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Act needs to be heard before a decision on the injunction can be made.

But Nelson admonished Boies and said she did have jurisdiction in the case, although she said she hadn't made up her mind whether she will grant the injunction to lift the lockout.

"The decision (to decertify) was a tactic in collective bargaining," Boies said. "Do you flip a switch and the antitrust exemption ends? The players say yes. We say no."

Quinn said the NFLPA's previous decision to decertify in 1989 was upheld, and that this year's action should be, too.

"Every argument has been made before and Judge (David) Doty found that the disclaimer (decertification) was valid," Quinn said.

The two sides are in a lunch recess and will resume at 3 p.m. Eastern time.

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