I have obtained copies of the documents supporting the temporary restraining order issued today preventing Major League Baseball and the Nationals from enforcing the arbitration which ruled in the Nationals’ favor in connection with its dispute with the Orioles over cable rights fees. They are embedded below. Click on the document name for a larger size.
The upshot of the arguments, for those who do not wish to read: MASN is asking that the arbitration be set aside for conflict of interest for the most part. The argument includes the following claims:
- The same lawyers represented the Nationals, Major League Baseball and the clubs of the three owners who comprised the arbitration panel;
- “The three arbitrators, MLB and the Commissioner of Baseball, all had a direct and significant pecuniary interest in the outcome of the arbitration.”
- The authority set up to determine the amount of money the Nats were supposed to get from MASN “exceeded its authority by intentionally refusing to use its established methodology to determine the fair market value of the telecast rights fees as mandated . . .”
Some of this is silly. Major League Baseball and its clubs, for certain purposes, are always represented by the same counsel and everyone knows this. As such, claims that these alleged conflicts “were not disclosed” don’t seen particularly important here. The one about the panel not being impartial because they are owners of other clubs and thus have a stake — and maybe a conflict — regarding the rights fees may be more legitimate.
It’s worth noting, however, as we noted in the A-Rod/Biogenesis case, that having arbitration awards set aside is extremely difficult.