Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baseball - Biogenesis

Today at 4 PM baseball's non-waiver trading deadline passed with no decision on suspensions for the players implicated in dealings with Biogenesis.  Biogenesis allegedly supplied the players with performance enhancing drugs that are banned.  The uncertainty led to at least one trade in the last few days in case the suspensions go through.  Generally players can appeal suspensions and continue playing and suspensions are set depending on the number of previous violations, but in this instance Major League Baseball (MLB) pursued suspensions under a separate part of the collective bargaining agreement.  That part of the agreement allows MLB to suspend players for more than the usual set number of games.  This gave MLB leverage to seek plea bargains with the players where the players would accept shorter suspension in exchange for not appealing the suspension.

MLB sued Biogenesis for intentional tortious interference with its player's contracts by providing them substances banned under those contracts.  Office of the Commissioner of Baseball v. Biogenesis of America LLC, Case No. 2013-10479-CA-20, in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.  MLB claims lost profits and damage to its relationship with its fanbase(goodwill) as damages.  A Miami judge recently denied a motion to dismiss the case meaning that discovery, including depositions, will begin shortly.  Biogenesis had argued that the complaint was too vague in that it did not state which contract was interfered with.  MLB countered that attachments to the complaint made specific allegations in that regard.  Attorneys for third parties MLB subpoenaed argued that the state court lacked jurisdiction as the case involved a collective bargaining agreement that is regulated by federal law.  The prospect of MLB obtaining more information from the discovery process makes striking a deal now more attractive to the players involved. 

Tortious interference with a contract by helping a party to the contract do something they promised  not to do is an interesting argument as most of these cases involve interference with something that the party promised to do rather than something that he promised not to do.

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