Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
All-star basketball guard Latrell Sprewell had his lawsuit against the Golden State Warriors and the NBA resuscitated Friday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sprewell, who was suspended for the remainder of the season after choking former Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo during a 1997 practice, will have a chance to go to trial on claims that the National Basketball Association violated his rights following the highly publicized incident. “We conclude that to the extent Sprewell’s claims of intentional interference are premised on the NBA’s and Warriors’ alleged violations of California state law, the district court erred in dismissing those claims,” wrote Judge Stephen Trott, in an about-face from an opinion last year upholding Northern District of California Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to toss the case. Trott was joined by Senior Judges Dorothy Nelson and David Thompson. Also reversed was an order for Sprewell’s lawyers to pay the NBA’s legal fees. The NBA is represented in the case by New York’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The case was originally thrown out because Sprewell’s state law claims — among others, that the Warriors and the NBA engaged in a negative media campaign that interfered with his ability to sign lucrative endorsement contracts — required an interpretation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Since it does, the state law claims were pre-empted by federal law under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. However, this summer the 9th Circuit decided Cramer v. Consolidated Freightways, 01 C.D.O.S. 4945, an en banc decision which held that if a CBA is consulted in the course of litigating state claims, it does not necessarily follow that the claims are pre-empted. And although it upheld the dismissal of Sprewell’s federal racial discrimination claims, the panel unanimously ruled that Sprewell’s state law claims of intentional interference and unfair business practices are back in play. “Any attempt by the NBA and the Warriors to pull Sprewell’s interference claims into the preemptive scope of section 301 by mounting a defense in reliance on the CBA would be fruitless,” Trott wrote. Trott wrote that the NBA is mistaken in its assertion that the media statements can only be “wrongful” if they violated the CBA. “Accordingly, the alleged actions of the NBA and the Warriors, if proven true, would qualify as ‘wrongful conduct’ under California law independent of the rights and responsibilities set forth in the CBA,” Trott wrote. Furthermore, Trott wrote in Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 01 C.D.O.S. 8123, the NBA and the Warriors have failed to invoke any section of the CBA waiving Sprewell’s state law rights. Paul Utrecht, a San Francisco solo handling the case for Sprewell in conjunction with two Atlanta lawyers, said he would pursue the case. “Absolutely,” Utrecht said. A lawyer for the NBA did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.