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February 24, 2005
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 24, 2005 - The California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District entered an important ruling yesterday in favor of Covington & Burling's client, the National Football League, in a $1.2 billion lawsuit brought by the Oakland Raiders. Yesterday's ruling reinstated the verdict of a Superior Court jury that, after 11 weeks of trial, had rejected claims that the NFL interfered with the Raiders' efforts to secure a new stadium in Los Angeles, forcing the club to return to Oakland.
Last year, the trial court granted the Raiders a new trial order based on what it characterized as "objectively ascertainable acts of juror misconduct." The Raiders had alleged, among other things, that one juror, who stated during deliberations that he hated the Raiders because of a bet that he had lost on the club in Las Vegas, had concealed his bias during voir dire; and that another juror, a lawyer, had instructed the jury on legal matters in a manner inconsistent with the judge's instructions.
After undertaking an independent review of the evidence, the Court of Appeal reversed the new trial order, finding that the Raiders had failed to sustain their burden of demonstrating juror misconduct. The panel's 57-page opinion also rejected the Raiders' claims of errors in the jury instructions and affirmed judgment for the NFL on its counterclaim, which was tried separately to the trial court.
Covington partner Gregg H. Levy, the NFL's principal outside counsel, argued the appeal; contributing to the briefs were associates James M. Garland, Derek Ludwin, and Sara Garon Berl. A copy of the Court of Appeal's opinion may be found at: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B163115.PDF.