Discovery in NASL v. USSF/MLS Anti-Trust Case Moving Forward

With a discovery cutoff of April 30, 2019, the parties in the NASL v. USSF/MLS anti-trust case are starting to prepare to obtain the necessary documents to bring this matter closer to a conclusion. To be sure, we’re still likely ten or so months out from a trial (or a summary judgment motion) in this case (at best), but discovery is an important process in getting to a resolution.

To that end, the parties have come to something of an accord regarding discovery requested by NASL from the USSF. If you’ve been following along, NASL sent over their discovery requests to the USSF/MLS back in July, and filed a motion to compel in August demanding that USSF/MLS turn over any number of documents. The parties had a few arguments about who should be required to turn over what. They were ultimately able to resolve most issues at a hearing about two weeks ago.

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With that “agreement” in place, the parties have filed a stipulation regarding the NASL discovery requests, and there are a couple of interesting tidbits in the stipulation. So, let’s go through them.

Text Messages:

The stipulation affords NASL the ability to review text messages from Sunil Gulati, Dan Flynn and Carlos Cordeiro back to January 1, 2008. There are also some limits placed on who NASL can obtain such information from.

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Some will probably ask about the January 1, 2008 date, and wonder why there is a cutoff. Well, this current incarnation of the NASL didn’t come into existence until 2009. Also, the Professional League Standards were amended in 2008. So there you go.

Pre-2008 hard-copy discovery:

So this is probably going to raise some eyebrows. Pursuant to the stipulation, the USSF has acknowledged there is an “attic” with hundreds of boxes of discovery, some of which is relevant to this litigation. The USSF has agreed to conduct a search for relevant documents to answer certain discovery requests.

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Four-hundred boxes/documents in an attic somewhere? And who exactly is going to conduct this review?

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Requests 4, 6, 8 and 11 have to do with construction of the Professional League Standards, the creation of the respective divisions, and the creation of MLS. You can find my review of them in my prior story, but I’ll list them here as well.

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Emails:

USSF has also agreed to produce emails from Sunil Gulati from the early 90s.

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This also seems designed to obtain information regarding the formation of MLS and the USSF divisional creation/structure. My guess is to why this is so limited again goes to the fact that NASL was not in existence before 2009, so it’s unlikely there is any relevant information between when MLS was formed, and when NASL was coming online (excluding the issue of the 2008 PLS).

Legal Files:

Finally (for this initial round), USSF has agreed to search its legal files for relevant information on PLS, as well as Soccer United Marketing.

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This basically resolves the discovery issues between 1993-2008, with the exception of financial and some other issues, which the parties are still working to resolve.

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A reminder this is not the extent of the discovery that NASL will seeking to obtain by a long shot. This basically covers all of the issues in the formation of MLS and the professional league standards. This does not cover any potential discussions between MLS/USSF after the NASL was formed, nor any allegations regarding why NASL was shut down in September 2017, nor anything whatsoever to do with the changes to the PLS in 2014, or the attempted change in 2015. But we begin to see what NASL is looking for to prove their case.

 

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