The Oakland Raiders have only three games left in the NFL regular season, but a lawsuit filed today could see those gridiron battles being the last the relocating Bay Area team plays for a while, anywhere.
Almost six months after the Oakland City Council gave the go ahead for legal action over the franchise’s proposed moved to Sin City, City Attorney Barbara J. Parker tackled the team, the NFL itself and the “unlawful cartel” of the 31 other teams in the league on Monday with a potentially game stopping antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit that could see damages in the hundreds of millions.
“This is an action for damages and other relief arising out of the Defendants’ unlawful decision to boycott Oakland, as the host city of the Raiders, and relocate the Raiders to Las Vegas, Nevada,” said the jury trial seeking seven-count complaint filed Tuesday in federal court over the late March 2017 vote of 31-1 to approve the relocation (read the filing here). “The Raiders’ move – and the bidding process which preceded it – violated not only the antitrust laws, but also the NFL’s own relocation policies,” the suit added with its demands for the “ill-gotten gains resulting out of what is terms the defendants’ “unlawful, unjust, and inequitable conduct.”
Conduct that includes a $378 million dollar “relocation fee” that the 45-page complaint terms a “bribe” to be shared among all the teams. As a warning to the league and its teams, it should be noted that federal antitrust laws provide treble damages plus attorneys’ fees for plaintiffs. “As a result of Defendants’ violations of the Sherman Act, Plaintiff has suffered injury from the impending loss of the Raiders and the economic activity generated by the Raiders’ presence in Oakland,” the filing today declares with additionally discussion of all the civic cash the city has put into the hub of the Raider Nation over the years. “These losses, current and future, are significant and were directly caused by Defendants’ unlawful restraint of trade.”
Long an advocate to keep the team, Mayor of Oakland added her voice today to the City Attorney’s effort:
The NFL’s Billionaires Boys Club ditched Oakland out of sheer greed and left taxpayers with millions in unpaid stadium debt. Our community’s support and loyalty were met with nothing but bad faith. Today we’re standing up for residents, taxpayers and fans. https://t.co/7nxcbXAsln
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) December 11, 2018
Tellingly, having just come off a rough couple of years ratingswise, the NFL itself and the Raiders organization did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit that paints them in the worst and greediest light possible, with potentially the added pain of likely being true.
“The Raiders, the NFL, and ultimately the vast majority of NFL Clubs, were just stringing Oakland along as part of their collusive scheme to move the Raiders,” the Oakland City attorney asserts of the prolonged talks that ultimately ended up exactly where Raiders owner Mark Davis has been saying he wanted to be for years – “Vegas, baby!”
However, Vegas isn’t in the cards for the Raiders, who looked at one point a few years back to be moving back to LA, immediately. Which means, with the Oakland Coliseum now looking less and less like a possibility for next season, the Raiders may have nowhere to play at all while this suit plays itself out.
Having said that, the team does have a Monday Night Football appearance coming up on Christmas Eve in what might be its final present to the town.