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Chadbourne Scores Victory Against Washington Nationals | Norton Rose Fulbright

Chadbourne Scores Victory Against Washington Nationals

August 22, 2014

Contacts

Chadbourne & Parke won a significant victory for client Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) this week in the ongoing dispute with the Washington Nationals, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Commissioner when New York Supreme Court Justice Lawrence K. Marks granted MASN’s motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining the Nationals, MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig from taking any steps to terminate MASN’s contractual right to telecast Nationals games.

MASN, a regional sports network majority owned and managed by the Baltimore Orioles, with the Nationals as minority owner, filed a petition in New York Supreme Court to vacate an arbitration award of an MLB Committee that grossly overvalued the telecast rights fees that MASN is required to pay the Nationals. After MASN contended that it had the right to challenge the award in court -- thereby bypassing the Major League Constitution which purportedly requires disputes between clubs to be submitted to the Commissioner—the Nationals, with support from MLB and the Commissioner, threatened to terminate MASN’s telecast rights in an attempt to force MASN to pay the disputed amount under the arbitral award.

Earlier this month, Chadbourne won a temporary restraining order enjoining the Nationals and MLB from terminating the telecast rights until the matter could be reviewed further. The court also denied MLB’s request that the record be sealed.  On Monday, August 18, the court granted MASN’s follow-up motion for a preliminary injunction.  Justice Marks held that payments demanded by the Nationals and ordered by MLB must be stayed because “to do otherwise, would permit the possible extortion of one side by the other, while there is an examination of the propriety of the process.” Justice Marks stated that “the fairness of the underlying [MLB arbitration] process is what concerns this court most of all.”

The ruling represents a major victory and now prevents any actions to terminate MASN’s telecast rights pending consideration of the underlying case. In his ruling from the bench, Justice Marks found that MASN was likely to succeed in the case and that MASN would be irreparably harmed without the injunction.

The Chadbourne team is led by Pamela Marple, Thomas Hall and Rachel Thorn and includes Benjamin Bleiberg, Michael Pusateri, Stacey Trimmer and Sarah Mathews, with additional contributions from Robert Schwinger, Lauren Lee and Caroline Pignatelli.

Originally prepared by Chadbourne & Parke. Chadbourne & Parke combined with Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP on June 30, 2017 and is now known as Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP.