Court rejects Raiders' bid for new trial on NFL
By Julia Cheever
July 3, 2007
The Oakland Raiders lost a bid to the California Supreme Court
yesterday to keep alive an eight year-old lawsuit in which the
team sought $1.2 billion in damages from the National Football
The court in San Francisco unanimously refused to order a new
trial on an unsuccessful lawsuit in which the team claimed the
NFL undermined its plans to build a new stadium in the Los Angeles
The court said the Raiders failed to prove there was misconduct
among members of a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that rejected
the suit in 2001.
Oakland Raiders general counsel Jeff Birren said he disagreed
with the decision and said, "The Supreme Court ruling is
NFL attorney Gregg Levy said, "This ruling should bring
an end to a long period of litigation and allow the parties to
focus their efforts on football fields rather than issues of law."
The Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994 and moved
back to Oakland in 1995 after plans for a new stadium at Hollywood
Park in Ingleside fell through.
The team's lawsuit, filed in 1999, claimed the league interfered
with the efforts to build a new stadium and also owed compensation
for the opportunity to replace the Raiders in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit sought $500 million in damages for the failure of
the stadium plan and $700 million for the league's opportunity
to put another team in Los Angeles.
After the jury rejected those claims, the trial judge, Superior
Court Judge Richard Hubbell, ordered a new trial on grounds of
But the judge failed to explain his reasoning and did not say
which of two jurors cited by the Raiders committed misconduct.
In 2005, a state appeals court in Los Angeles overturned the
new trial order and in yesterday's ruling the state high court
agreed with that action, thus leaving the original jury verdict
The panel said that because the trial judge hadn't given his
reasoning, it had to review the evidence independently, instead
of taking the usual path of deferring to the trial judge. It said
that under that standard of review, the Raiders hadn't proved
that juror misconduct occurred.
Justice Joyce Kennard wrote in the court's opinion that the evidence
of alleged misconduct by two jurors was "sharply conflicting"
and was therefore inconclusive.
The Raiders had claimed that one juror had told fellow jurors
he hated the Raiders and owner Al Davis and that another juror
who was a lawyer had improperly given her own instructions on
the law during deliberations.
The two jurors in post-trial statements denied any wrongdoing
and other jurors gave conflicting statements about what their
colleagues had said.
Justice Marvin Baxter wrote in a concurring opinion that the
result is that "the Raiders snatch defeat from the jaws of
victory in this proceeding."
Baxter noted that the new trial order would normally have been
likely to be upheld if the judge had given adequate written reasoning,
but that the team lost because the judge failed to do so and the
team didn't prove its case under the independent review standard.
Birren, disputing the ruling, said, "The experienced judge
who oversaw the trial between the National Football League and
the Raiders found that there were overt acts of juror misconduct
and ordered a new trial.
"The Supreme Court ruled that because the judge failed to
insert a few words of additional explanation, the Raiders should
be denied a new trial," Birren said.
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