NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Tom Axon and his businesses, Cangrejeros de Santurce Baseball Club LLC and Santurce Merchandising LLC, have appealed a district court decision that dismissed his seven-count complaint against Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico, Inc. (the League), the owners of the other teams, and Impulse Sports Entertainment Corporation for conspiring with the Mayor of San Juan to permanently remove Axon and his businesses from the League.
Prior to this alleged civil conspiracy, Axon and his businesses were the owner-operators of the Cangrejeros baseball team and sought to restore the franchise’s success by increasing investment and competition in the League.
Axon originally filed his antitrust, civil rights, and tort claims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in July 2022. The district court dismissed Axon’s federal antitrust claims in June 2023, stating that the court was “boldly go[ing] where no lower court has gone before” by becoming the first to “appl[y] the Supreme Court’s much criticized judicial exemption to the Nation’s antitrust laws to a Puerto Rican professional baseball venture NOT associated with Major League Baseball.” The court then dismissed the remainder of Axon’s claims as preempted under the Supremacy Clause or barred by res judicata.
Axon’s appeal contends that the district court’s “unprecedented expansion” of the “aberrational exemption” announced by the Supreme Court in 1922 requires reversal. The appeal adds that the “district court compounded its error” by dismissing the remainder of Axon’s claims because the court “misapplied controlling law and misconstrued the undisputed facts.”
Axon and his companies are represented in the case by the internationally known law firm Winston & Strawn LLP. The lead attorney on this matter is Partner Jeffrey Kessler, Winston’s co-executive chairman and co-chair of the firm’s Antitrust/Competition Practice. Kessler and Winston have been involved in some of the most significant sports litigations in history, including the recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court, NCAA v. Alston, in which the college player classes represented by Winston prevailed in antitrust claims against the compensation restrictions of the NCAA. Kessler and Winston also recently represented the world champion women soccer players on the United States Women’s National Team in their successful fight for equal pay. Kessler has also successfully asserted antitrust claims against the National Football League and the National Basketball Association to obtain the creation of free agency rights for players.
Jeffrey Kessler stated today: “We strongly believe the district court erred in its decision to dismiss this case, and we look forward to having our arguments heard by the First Circuit. Our clients remain undeterred in their quest to bring positive change to the Puerto Rico Winter Baseball League. After prevailing in this action, our clients will seek recovery of treble damages and attorneys’ fees against the defendants in our case. Axon will also seek the recovery of his investor-operating rights in the Cangrejeros franchise so he can compete to bring better players, stadium facilities, and other improvements to the League for the benefit of baseball fans throughout Puerto Rico.”
Axon and his businesses are also being represented in the lawsuit by prominent Puerto Rico-based law firm Goldman Antonetti & Cordóva, LLC. Founded over 60 years ago, Goldman Antonetti maintains a diversified practice and serves local, national, and international clients involved in business transactions and litigation in Puerto Rico. Learn more about Goldman Antonetti at www.gaclaw.com.
Winston & Strawn LLP is an international law firm with 16 offices in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. More information about the firm is available at www.winston.com.