soccer

Recapping the WPS-Borislow case

Someone asked recently if I could put all the WPS-Borislow documents in one place. I also find myself sometimes wanting to go back and check a few things, and I’m sure a couple of the diehards following everything also want to see it all together. So with apologies to those who just want this all to be over with, here goes:

You can get a list of the documents from the Palm Beach County clerk’s site. They say it’s only set up to work in Internet Explorer, but I was able to get it to load in Chrome as well. Here’s the direct link to the case.

From here, I’ll go through a timeline. I’m not going to embed the documents — that would probably stop the page from loading — but I’ll link:

2011

Nov. 18: Borislow files a motion for a temporary injunction, seeking reinstatement of his team in WPS. He also seeks to compel arbitration, claiming he was entitled to that before his team was terminated.

Nov. 21: WPS files a motion to dismiss and also seeks attorney’s fees. They also file an opposition to Borislow’s request for an expedited hearing.

Nov. 22: Separate from the motion to dismiss, WPS files an opposition to Borislow’s motion for injunction.

Nov. 28: Judge Meenu Sasser issues her first order in the case.

(Note on other filings you’ll see: “Pro Hac Vice” is a necessary but required step to allow out-of-state attorneys to represent clients. So you’ll see that for Louis Ederer (Borislow) and Pamela Fulmer (WPS). Nothing to see there.)

Nov. 30: WPS issues a small correction to its opposition. But the bigger news: Deadspin takes the exhibits with Borislow’s emails to league officials before a wider audience.

Dec. 6: Sasser denies the motion to dismiss and sets an evidentiary hearing for Dec. 16.

Dec. 8-12: Some back-and-forth over Borislow’s request to take a deposition from Boston Breakers executive Michael Stoller. The request is granted.

Dec. 12: After some delay, U.S. Soccer grants WPS Division I sanctioning for the 2012 season.

Dec. 16: WPS files its opposition again? (I didn’t get this document; not sure what it entails. Should be moot point by now.)

Dec. 21: The evidentiary hearing is continued to Jan. 5.

Dec. 29: WPS answers complaint.

2012

Jan. 4-5: Borislow files notice to produce for hearing; WPS moves to quash and objects to “untimely notice.”

Jan. 10: WPS files response to Borislow’s renewed motion in limine.

Jan. 10: Sasser issues order on Borislow’s motion. She finds that WPS did not follow its termination procedure but reserves ruling on other issues, particularly the issue of irreparable harm to either party. The hearing for that issue is set for Jan. 18. Important point from Sasser’s ruling: “(T)he Court is not making any determination as to the underlying merits of the parties’ dispute.” In other words, this ruling is limited simply to the termination procedures themselves.

Jan. 17: WPS files a memo regarding adequate remedy at law and absence of irreparable harm. (Clerk site gives date as Jan. 23, but document is dated Jan. 17.) WPS argues that an arbitrator could grant Borislow damages if the termination is found to be improper.  The league also says Borislow offered to sit out the 2012 season anyway, so where’s the irreparable harm that must be addressed by an injunction? Finally, the league argues that reinstating Borislow would cause irreparable harm to WPS. “If that happens, women’s soccer fans throughout the country — not just in South Florida — will be deprived of the excitement and enjoyment that the League provides to its many fans. Because the evidence will show that the harm to the League greatly outweighs any minimal harm to Plaintiffs, Defendant respectfully requests that the injunction be denied.”

Jan. 18: A dramatic change. Instead of the hearing on “irreparable harm,” the parties agree to read a deal into the record.

From here on, the case isn’t really about the temporary injunction. It’s about whether WPS should be compelled to abide by that deal.

The evidentiary hearing is reset for Feb. 1.

Jan. 30: WPS announces it will not play in 2012.

Jan. 31: Borislow moves to suspend the Feb. 1 hearing. In a telephone conference in which both parties air their sides of what has happened since the deal was reached, Judge Sasser agrees to suspend that hearing.

  • Conference transcript
  • Borislow motion to suspend hearing, stating position that despite league’s decision not to play in 2012, the settlement is valid and the matter is settled
  • Feb. 2 blog post examining “The Deal” in full, with a big discussion including comments from Borislow
  • Feb. 3 blog post with Jan. 18 and Jan. 31 hearing transcripts embedded and addressed

Feb. 3-6: Borislow files a motion to enforce the Jan. 18 settlement agreement. Also included: Plenty of discovery requests and a deposition request of WPS CEO Jennifer O’Sullivan. Meanwhile, WPS moves for a status conference, basically asking why we’re all still in court and insisting that U.S. Soccer would not approve the proposed deal.

  • WPS motion for status conference, including partial transcripts of hearings from Dec. 16, Jan. 18, Jan. 26 and Jan. 31 (telephone), as well as letters asking U.S. Soccer about deal.
  • Feb. 3 espnW story on WPS motion, with Borislow’s informal response.
  • Borislow motion to enforce settlement
  • Declaration of Borislow lawyer Louis Ederer offering timeline of what has transpired
  • espnW story on WPS’s motion
  • Follow-up espnW story addressing these documents, with the revelation (mostly in Ederer’s declaration) that the league’s most attention-grabbing evidence hasn’t been weighed in court to this point.
  • Blog post

Feb. 7: Borislow responds to motion for a status conference. That status conference is set for Feb. 22.

Feb. 17-21: Several filings ahead of the status conference: Position statement from Borislow’s side, WPS opposition to Borislow’s motion to enforce settlement agreement, WPS motion for summary judgment.

  • WPS motion for summary judgment, saying parties have already agreed to start arbitration/mediation.
  • WPS opposition to Borislow motion, arguing that all parties agreed (in several hearings, with transcripts) that USSF needed to sign off on deal and that no one discussed a magicJack team without the big-name national team players. And even if the deal was enforceable, Borislow’s argument that league violated non-disparagement clause must be heard by an arbitrator, as specified in the deal itself.
  • WPS affidavits from O’Sullivan and Fitz Johnson
  • Position statement from Borislow, essentially insisting that deal exists and must be enforced

March 1: Sasser gives an order on the motion for a status conference, saying things will happen in the following order: Court will decide what discovery is allowed, Court will have hearing and then rule on Plaintiff’s Motion to Enforce Settlement and Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (in that order).

March 1-2: WPS objects to request for production of documents and gives a notice of requested discovery. Also, the league seeks some discovery of its own.

March 9: Sasser gives an order cutting the discovery in half.

  • Blog post with (brief) document embedded as well as

And that’s where we stand for now. I have not seen a ruling on the league’s discovery requests.

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