What had been threatened since the first week of the season became reality Tuesday when the City of Oakland announced it has filed a federal lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN reports.
The suit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, puts into question where the Raiders will play in 2019, the season before their planned move to Las Vegas. The Raiders do not have a lease for a home next year and team owner Mark Davis has said he will not play in Oakland if a lawsuit were ever filed — though Davis has recently softened that stance.
In a news release announcing the suit, which also referred to the NFL as a “cartel,” Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker “recommended and the Oakland City Council authorized filing the lawsuit to recover damages resulting from the Raiders’ illegal move to Las Vegas, including lost revenue, money that Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders and other costs.”
The release stated that by approving the team’s move to Las Vegas, the league was “boycotting Oakland in the marketplace for hosting a football club” and, thus, “violated federal antitrust laws while the Raiders’ move also violated the NFL’s own policies for team relocation.”
And while federal antitrust laws provide treble damages plus attorneys’ fees, the release stated, Oakland seeks a resolution for the maximum amount of damages available but will not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas or keep the team in Oakland.
“The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill,” Parker said in the release. “The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold the defendants accountable and help to compensate Oakland for the damages the defendants’ unlawful actions have caused and will cause to the people of Oakland.”
The civil complaint is a 49-page document and presents seven different claims against the NFL. It was filed with assistance from the law firms of Berg & Androphy and Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP, which are working on a contingency basis and will not be paid unless the case is won.
Davis, meanwhile, was en route to Dallas for this week’s NFL owners meetings and unavailable for comment.