|LOS ANGELES -- This time, the maverick lost to the
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.
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
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
Raiders vs. the NFL
through the years
||Chronology of lawsuits involving the Raiders during the past 21
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
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
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