U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lifted the NFL’s lockout of its players on Monday, ruling in a 89-page decision that players are suffering irreparable harm by being barred from playing football.
Nelson granted the players a preliminary injunction that ends the lockout which was invoked in early March. The league immediately announce that it was appealing the decision.
“We are pleased with the ruling granting the plaintiffs preliminary injunction to lift the NFL owners’ illegal lockout issued this afternoon by Judge Susan Richard Nelson,” said NFLPA attorney James W. Quinn in a statement. “We believe that this 89-page well-reasoned decision is totally consistent with prior precedent, governing caselaw as well as administrative rulings on all the issues raised by the NFL Defendants. We are confident that this ruling will withstand any appeals.”
The union was elated by the ruling.
“I’m happy for our players and for our fans,” said DeMaurice Smith, co-class counsel and executive director of the NFLPA in a statement. “Today, those who love football are the winners.”
New York Giants defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora is one of the plaintiffs in the case.
“Today’s ruling is a win for the players and for the fans that want to see a full NFL season in 2011,” Umenyiora said in a statement. “The lockout is bad for everyone and players will continue to fight it. We hope that this will bring us one step closer to playing the game we love.”
The victory doesn’t mean a quick return to football. The NFL plans to immediately appeal the decision.
The league issued a statement: “We will promptly seek a stay from Judge Nelson pending an expedited appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. We believe that federal law bars injunctions in labor disputes. We are confident that the Eighth Circuit will agree. But we also believe that this dispute will inevitably end with a collective bargaining agreement, which would be in the best interests of players, clubs and fans. We can reach a fair agreement only if we continue negotiations toward that goal.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog