Football fans across the country remember the United States Football League. It was a courageous start up with a cast of colorful characters and future Hall of Famers that played football for three years in the spring. Their plan was to challenge the NFL for our football viewing dollars.
One of its owners decided that a lawsuit was necessary to bring down the NFL. Consequently, the USFL filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.
Here’s where the story gets a little intricate. The USFL had teams in various cities across the country. So the USFL had the ability to choose the venue it wanted to file its lawsuit. Indeed, the owner of the Houston franchise wanted to file the lawsuit in Texas. That owner was already working with an attorney who filed a highly successful class-action lawsuit in Texas, and Texas was seen as more “plaintiff friendly” than New York. Texas is also a football loving state. In other words, Texas may have provided the USFL with a “friendly” venue to file its lawsuit against the NFL.
Instead, the USFL decided to file its lawsuit in New York, which may not have been the ideal venue for the claims that were being asserted against the NFL. New York had been the home of the NFL for several decades, and was the home of two popular NFL teams. But for some reason, the USFL owners did not adequately evaluate the importance of venue prior to filing their antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in the league’s home turf.
While the USFL “won” the case, they were only awarded $3.00 in damages plus attorney fees. That is not a typo. They were only awarded three dollars in damages despite a finding that the NFL had violated the law. That ruling ultimately led to the demise of the USFL. A league that had a successful start playing spring football was left to wither and die at the courthouse steps following the end of their trial with the NFL.
Perhaps, however, if they had filed their lawsuit in Texas as one owner wanted, the USFL may still be with us today.
I mention that story because I have recently noticed an increase in insurance policies dictating that disputes originating in Florida need to be litigated or arbitrated in the state of New York. Insurance companies have figured out that New York is the preferable venue even though the dispute originated here in Florida.
This is an important issue that should be explored and addressed before signing a contract of any kind, or finalizing the purchase of insurance. Understanding where a dispute will be litigated is vital to ensure that you have the available means to fight for the rights you bargained for at the time you agreed to it in the contract.
If your lawsuit is filed in the wrong venue, then you may not necessarily get the result you want. That is what happened to the USFL. Largely because their lawsuit was filed in the wrong venue, their league ended up closing for business.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Make sure that when signing a contract or taking out an insurance policy that the venue provision for any dispute that you may need to assert takes place in the venue of your choosing or preference. Failure to do so, or even the failure to understand the importance of this issue, may result in your inability to adequately assert claims you may have in the future in the place of your choosing. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish discuss football, the USFL, or the importance of the venue provision in any agreement you are currently working on.
To visit the USFL website, please Click Here.