The National Football league and its players await the decision of the three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The ruling on the legality of the current lockout raises many questions for this collective bargaining dispute and the future of the 2011 season.
1.What happens if the NFL receives a favorable decision from the Eighth Circuit?
If Judge Nelson’s preliminary injunction order is overturned, the NFL will be able to continue its lockout. It is very unlikely there wll be a rehearing of the matter before the full panel of judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case coming before the U.S. Supreme Court is even less likely. The reality is that if the parties are unable to reach terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, the lockout could continue until the trial of Tom Brady v. NFL, expected to begin sometime in 2012.
2.What happens if the players receive a favorable decision from the Eighth Circuit?
If Judge Nelson’s preliminary injunction is reinstated by the Eighth Circuit, the lockout will end and the players will report back to their training camps and begin preparation for the 2011 season. The NFL can appeal to the full panel of the Eighth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court, but the chances are slim. While the legal ramifications of success for the NFL in Tom Brady v. NFL could allow the NFL to reinstate the lockout, the timing of that trial date would lead to the NFL playing a full 16 game slate in 2011.
A favorable decision from the Eighth Circuit for the players would create leverage and should lead to an expeditious conclusion to this dispute and a new collective bargaining agreement between the parties.
3. What are the potential appeals that the losing party could pursue?
The party that loses before the Eighth Circuit will most likely seek a rehearing of the matter before all judges on the Eighth Circuit. An “en banc rehearing” request is rarely granted. A minimum of six of the 11 active judges on the Eighth Circuit would have to support the granting of this request for a rehearing to occur. Such support is against the odds.
The losing party could then seek an interlocutory appeal before the United States Supreme Court. The odds of convincing the Supreme Court granting the appeal appear are slim as the Supreme Court accepts fewer than 2% of requests for writs of certiorari.