Monday, May 21
Raiders lose in $1.2 billion lawsuit vs. NFL

LOS ANGELES -- This time, the maverick lost to the establishment.

Al Davis and the litigious Raiders, who won a court case two decades ago allowing them to move to Los Angeles, lost their $1.2 billion suit claiming the NFL forced them back to Oakland in 1995.

After a six-week trial that featured stacks of cumbersome documents and included conflicting testimony by Davis and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, a Superior Court jury voted 9-3 in favor of the league Monday.

Raiders vs. the NFL –
through the years
Chronology of lawsuits involving the Raiders during the past 21 years:

1980 -- Team owner Al Davis and the Raiders join Los Angeles Coliseum antitrust suit against the NFL in Los Angeles.

1981 -- Hung jury declared in antitrust trial.

1982 -- Raiders and Los Angeles Coliseum win retrial of antitrust suit against NFL in Los Angeles.

1982 -- Raiders move from Oakland to Los Angeles.

1983 -- Raiders awarded $35 million from NFL in damages portion of antitrust suit. NFL later paid Raiders $18 million in settlement.

1986 -- Davis testifies for United States Football League in its antitrust suit against the NFL. A New York jury voted for USFL on one of nine counts and awarded it $1 from NFL.

1995 -- NFL sues the Raiders in Los Angeles over their alleged refusal to share Oakland revenues.

1995 -- Raiders return to Oakland.

1996 -- Raiders sue NFL over alleged mismanagement of its merchandise sales. The suit is pending in San Jose, Calif.

1997 -- Oakland Coliseum sues Raiders over alleged refusal to sign a stadium-naming rights deal. Suit also asks that team's lease with Coliseum be declared valid.

1998 -- Raiders countersue Oakland and Alameda County over Oakland Coliseum lease, claiming breach of contract. Both suits are pending in Sacramento.

1999 -- Judge dismisses NFL's suit against the Raiders over revenue sharing.

1999 -- Raiders file suit in Santa Clara County, Calif., claiming NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and another league official deceptively set up an executive compensation fund for league officials. A judge dismisses the suit.

1999 -- Raiders file $1.2 billion suit against the NFL, claiming the league sabotaged its plans for a new stadium at Hollywood Park, and that the Raiders still "own" the Los Angeles market.

2001 -- A Los Angeles jury rules against the Raiders in the $1.2 billion suit on May 21, following six-week trial.
-- The Associated Press

The verdict restored some of the NFL's power, said David Carter, a sports marketing consultant.

"It reinforces their authority as the league's governing authority, it allows them to gain some control over the L.A. market, and I think it begins to marginalize Al Davis in the eyes of some of the National Football League," Carter said.

Davis, considered a renegade by many other NFL team owners because of his constant battles with the league, dressed in Raiders' silver and black and sat in the front row facing the jury during the trial.

Neither he nor Tagliabue was present for the verdict, however.

Raiders attorney Joe Alioto said the team will review the decision to determine if the verdict will be appealed.

"The jury upheld the NFL's position on all issues in the case," NFL spokesman Joe Browne said. "The truth regarding what happened is found in the Raiders' own June 23, 1995, media release announcing their decision to leave Los Angeles. It stated: 'The Raiders organization has chosen to relocate to Oakland."'

Judge Richard C. Hubbell asked the jury to reach one general verdict in favor of the Raiders or the NFL. The nine-vote majority was the minimum for a verdict in the civil suit. Unlike criminal trials, civil cases do not require a unanimous verdict.

Deliberations started April 30 and began anew May 4 when the jury's foreman was dismissed to take a long-planned vacation and was replaced by an alternate.

"I think the key for me was that the Raiders did not have enough evidence to meet the burden of proof," said Kimberly Hamilton, a social services worker who became jury forewoman when the panel restarted deliberations.

The Raiders, who moved to Los Angeles from Oakland after winning an antitrust suit against the NFL in Los Angeles in 1982, claimed the league should pay them for ruining the team's 1995 plans to move to a new stadium to be built at Hollywood Park.

One point of contention during the trial was Davis' and Tagliabue's differing recollections of a June 9, 1995, phone conversation, shortly before Davis moved the team back to Oakland.

Davis testified he was emotional during the call and told Tagliabue that the commissioner was "killing the deal" at Hollywood Park. Tagliabue testified it was not an emotional conversation, that Davis neither mentioned "killing the deal" nor indicated he thought the league was acting improperly.

The league claimed Davis never made a commitment to the Hollywood Park stadium and only used the situation to get a better deal out of Oakland, where he eventually accepted a deal providing $63 million in upfront payments, loans and other benefits.

Hamilton said she and several others on the jury believed Tagliabue's version of the 1995 phone call and thought Davis simply was negotiating for the best deal.

Juror Tim Taylor, who also sided with the NFL, said, "I thought there was some contradiction in Al Davis' testimony."

But William Steward, one of the three jurors who voted for the Raiders, didn't consider Tagliabue a convincing witness, saying, "There were some things he just couldn't remember."

The Raiders also claimed in the lawsuit they still owned the rights to the Los Angeles market, the nation's second largest.

The Los Angeles area has been without an NFL team since 1995, when the Raiders returned to Oakland and the Rams left Anaheim for St. Louis.

The Raiders claimed the NFL sabotaged their hopes to move from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum near downtown to Hollywood Park in suburban Inglewood by pushing for a second team to play at the proposed stadium. Davis testified that a second team would have crippled the Raiders financially when it came to selling luxury suites and building fan loyalty.

The NFL countered that the league tried to do more financially for the Raiders in the proposed Hollywood Park deal than it had ever done for a team. That included guaranteeing two Super Bowls at Hollywood Park if the Raiders would agree to another team playing there for a limited time.

The Raiders, involved in a string of lawsuits against the league over the past 21 years, also are in a legal battle with the city of Oakland and Alameda County.

Oakland and Alameda County sued the Raiders over various issues in 1997, including asking that the team's lease with the Oakland Coliseum be ruled valid. The Raiders countersued in 1998, claiming breach of contract. That trial is expected to begin in Sacramento this fall.

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