California justices open door to new Raiders, NFL lawsuit
By DAVID KRAVETS - Associated Press Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Oakland Raiders won a minor victory Wednesday in their long-standing conspiracy lawsuit claiming the NFL sabotaged the team's effort to build a stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.
An appellate court's February decision dismissing those allegations fell under scrutiny Wednesday when the California Supreme Court agreed to review whether a lower court properly dismissed the team's case.
All seven justices voted to review a decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal of Los Angeles that found allegations of juror misconduct did not warrant a new trial in which the Raiders are seeking $1.2 billion.
The NFL won a 9-3 verdict in 2001, but Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard Hubbell ordered a new trial amid accusations that one juror was biased against the team and its owner, Al Davis. The appeals court overturned that decision, and the Raiders appealed to California's justices.
The Supreme Court did not announce when it would hear the case, but each side was already predicting victory.
``Had that juror not been biased, the NFL would not have won its case,'' said Larry Feldman, a Raiders' attorney who said the team is confident the justices will grant the team a new trial.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello noted that ``the jury ruled in our favor in this case and the appellate court upheld that decision unanimously.''
``We are confident that when the California Supreme Court reviews the case, it will reach the same conclusion,'' Aiello said.
The Raiders moved to Oakland for a second time from Los Angeles in 1995. After the move, the Raiders sued the NFL and commissioner Paul Tagliabue, claiming the league interfered with their plans to move from the Los Angeles Coliseum to a new stadium at Hollywood Park by insisting that the new facility also host a second NFL team.
A Superior Court jury eventually ruled against the team. But the judge later ordered a new trial, finding in favor of the Raiders' claim that at least one juror was biased against the team and hid his feelings during jury questioning that he hated Davis.
The appeals court supported the juror's claim that he was joking when he told fellow jurors that he would never render a verdict in favor of the Raiders.