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CalifYanksFan
05-21-01, 11:16 PM
Monday May 21 7:58 PM ET
Raiders Lawsuit Vs. NFL Is Rejected
By KEN PETERS, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Al Davis and his Oakland Raiders lost a $1.2 billion lawsuit that claimed the NFL sabotaged a deal for a new stadium and forced the team to leave Los Angeles.

The jury voted 9-3 Monday in favor of the NFL, rejecting breach of contract claims, unjust enrichment and other violations of the league constitution and bylaws. It also rejected that the NFL acted with ``oppression, malice or fraud'' in dealing with the team that left Los Angeles in 1995 after negotiations fell through for a new stadium at Hollywood Park.

Neither Davis nor NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was in the courtroom for the verdict. Tagliabue, who testified earlier, was in Chicago to prepare for an owners' meetings.

Davis, an NFL maverick often at odds with the league and fellow owners, sat in the front row throughout the six-week trial and spent five days on the stand.

``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.'''

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

The NFL made three major gains with the verdict, 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.

In 1982, Davis moved his team from Oakland to Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest market. After the 1995 season, however, the Raiders moved back to Oakland and the Rams went to St. Louis, leaving the city without an NFL franchise.

When it decided to expand to 32 teams, the NFL preferred to put a new franchise in Los Angeles. However, various groups could not get their plans together and a site could not be agreed upon, so the team was awarded to Houston, which had lost the Oilers to Tennessee.

Superior Court Judge Richard C. Hubbell had asked the jury to reach one general verdict in favor of the Raiders or the NFL.

The Raiders claimed the NFL forced the team to leave the Los Angeles market by pushing for a second team to play at a new stadium proposed for Hollywood Park in suburban Inglewood.

Davis said the second team would have crippled his team financially when it came to selling luxury suites and building fan loyalty.

In the lawsuit, he demanded more than $1 billion for the right to the Los Angeles market and to compensate the team for revenue allegedly lost because of the failed stadium deal.

The Raiders also sought unspecified punitive damages, claiming the NFL essentially discriminated against the Raiders during the stadium negotiations.

The NFL countered that the league offered to do more for the Raiders financially than had ever been done for any team in league history.

That included waiving $60 million in ticket revenue to help build the stadium and offering to hold at least two Super Bowls in Los Angeles if the Raiders agreed to the second team option.

The league claimed that 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.

Deliberations began April 30, then started over on May 4 after the jury foreman was excused to take a planned vacation and he 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, the forewoman of the jury.

Davis prevailed over the NFL in 1983 in an antitrust lawsuit that let the Raiders come to Los Angeles in the first place and cleared the way for other teams that want to pick up and move. As a result, he is seen as a renegade who puts his financial interests ahead of the league.

One question raised by the case was whether Davis is angling to move the Raiders back to Los Angeles.

He declined to comment on that possibility during the trial. But as part of a separate lawsuit against the city of Oakland, he asked a judge to let him out of a lease requiring the team to play at the Oakland Coliseum for 10 more years. That request was denied.

The NFL has no expansion plans, which means Los Angeles' only hope for a franchise would be to get a team to move here.

Yahoo Sports (http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20010521/sp/fbn_raiders_nfl_4.html)

How does it feel Al, getting screwed like you've screwed everybody you've ever dealt with? Time for you and that white leisure suit to go away FOREVER!