ALBANY, NY (AP) — The long-running fight between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals over television rights fees reached New York’s highest court on Tuesday when an attorney for the Orioles pleaded for a reward of $296.8 million for 2012-16 made by a panel of baseball executives should be expelled and the case should be heard again by another forum.
Derek L. Shaffer, an attorney for the Nationals, told the six New York Court of Appeals justices that they should uphold the ruling, as did New York Supreme Court Justice Joel M. Cohen. in 2019 and an appeal committee the following year. Shaffer predicted further litigation between the teams in a dispute that could delay a potential sale of the Nationals, who said last April they were exploring the market.
“The potential disputes your honor alludes to are those which will be litigated, as this matter has been litigated, until the kingdom come by my friends for the other side,” Shaffer said. “So I think that’s a recipe for this litigation to go on and on forever instead of finally having a chapter of it over a decade later.”
MASN, which is controlled by the Orioles, paid the Nationals for 2012-16 what Baltimore offered: $197.5 million. Washington argued he should be paid $475 million.
An arbitration panel of baseball executives — Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly, Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon — heard the case. in 2012 and ruled in 2014 that the Nationals owed $298.1 million.
The Orioles appealed, and that decision was overturned in 2015 by New York Supreme Court Justice Lawrence K. Marks, who ruled that a law firm representing the Nationals was in conflict because it had worked for executive clubs on the panel. The Appeals Division sent the case back to baseball to be heard by a reconstituted committee on revenue sharing definitions.
A second panel of baseball executives – Milwaukee Brewers President Mark Attanasio, Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mather and Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro – ordered the slightly lower $296.8 million payout. dollars. The Orioles argue the process remained tainted and should be decided by a different forum.
“At some point, the commissioner of Major League Baseball came to the conclusion that the Orioles should lose this case,” Carter G. Phillips, an attorney for the Orioles, told the court. “At the end of the procedure, the first procedure, which was obviously a partial procedure, his view was that the Orioles should lose. And he said it over and over again. So this bias continues to this day, and this court should not pay attention to it.
The judges seemed unsure of the court’s power to direct the dispute to an arbitration forum other than the RSDC specified in the deal between the Baltimore and Washington teams that allowed the Montreal Expos to relocate and become the Nationals. for the 2005 season. Some questioned whether the agreement established what amounted more to an evaluation process than arbitration.
“It’s not just one referee’s problem. It’s a problem of MLB and the whole institution,” Phillips said. “First and second, there was no doubt what the second arbitration award would look like. This is within 0.02% of the first reward. You can reverse engineer from the number.“