Lawsuit chronology

September 11, 1992

1987 Aug. 31: The NFL's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association expires. A collective bargaining agreement is needed to preserve an organization's exemption from antitrust laws.

Sept. 21: NFL players strike. The owners respond by hiring replacement players, and games continue.

Oct. 15-16: The strike collapses as scores of veteran players cross picket lines.

Oct. 16: NFLPA president Marvin Powell and others file a class-action lawsuit challenging the free-agency system.

1988 Jan. 29: U.S. District Judge David Doty rules that the NFL and the players association must bargain until they reach an impasse before he will rule whether the league is liable under antitrust laws.

April 29: The National Labor Relations Board rules that the players are bargaining in good faith.

June 17: Doty rules that an impasse exists.

July 11: Doty refuses to grant total free agency to players.

1989 Feb. 1: Plan B free agency is implemented as the league responds to court orders requiring some form of free agency.

March 27: Doty rules that he will not interfere with the Plan B process.

Nov. 1: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minn., guts the Powell case by ruling that the NFL's labor exemption is still in effect. The conflict is categorized as a labor dispute, not an antitrust case.

November-December: The players association is decertified as a union, opening the possibility that players can sue the NFL for antitrust violations.

1990 Feb. 5: Doty rules that players are free to pursue individual antitrust cases against the NFL.

April: Freeman McNeil and seven other players who were restricted under the Plan B free-agency system file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.

Dec. 10: The Justice Department recommends that the U.S. Supreme Court hear an appeal by the players on the Powell case, claiming that the NFL should not be exempt from antitrust laws.

1991 Jan. 7: The Supreme Court refuses to hear the appeal of the Powell case, tacitly sending a message to both sides to settle their differences out of court.

May 28: Doty tosses out the NFL's labor exemption, upholds the NFLPA's decertification and rules to allow individual players to pursue free agency.

June 5: U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth of Washington takes issue with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and rules that the NFL has been liable for antitrust violations since its collective bargaining agreement expired in 1987.

Sept. 30: Doty dismisses a players association lawsuit claiming collusion among NFL owners, but leaves open the possibility of claims by individual players.


March 31: Doty rules that the sharing of salary information among players and agents does not violate federal antitrust laws.

June 15: Jury selection begins in the McNeil case in Doty's courtroom in Minneapolis.

Yesterday: Jury strikes down Plan B and awards a total of $543,000 (trebled to $1.63 million under federal antitrust laws) to four of the eight plaintiffs.

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