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Yes, the Sunday Ticket ruling can be brought before the NFL even if the jury rules against the league

Last week, the judge presiding over the Sunday Ticket class action threatened to dismiss the case after he criticized the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ handling of the lawsuit. The judge is currently waiting to rule on the league’s motion as a matter of law until the jury reaches a verdict.

Several of you have asked these questions, or some version of them: How can the judge in the Sunday Ticket trial overrule the jury? If the judge does that, why does it even go to the jury?

During the life cycle of a civil lawsuit, the judge has several ways to rule in favor of one party or the other, with or without a jury verdict. The motion under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss challenges to whether there is any legal basis for the allegations being made, even if all facts in the complaint are accepted as true. The Rule 56 motion for summary judgment asks the court to find that there is no basis for a jury to resolve the facts because the undisputed evidence developed during the discovery process shows that the defendant should prevail.

During the trial, Rule 50 allows the judge to rule at any time as a matter of law.

The question under Rule 50 in this particular case depends on whether the evidence would enable a reasonable jury to find in favor of the plaintiffs. In many cases, the evidence allows reasonable opinions to differ about what happened. If the judge in this case decides that, on the key factual questions, there is no basis for a reasonable jury to find the plaintiffs, the judge may enter judgment as a trial for the NFL – even after the verdict.

So how can a jury rule against the NFL if no reasonable jury (in the judge’s judgment) should reach that conclusion? That doesn’t mean the jury is unreasonable. It means the jury was confused by issues unrelated to the strict legal requirements of the case.

Big companies hate jury trials, largely due to the fact that jury decisions are often made based on deeply held beliefs about what is and is not fair and just. In this case, it would be very easy for the jury to determine (based on evidence uncovered through media reports) that the NFL unfairly limited consumer options by requiring the Sunday Ticket price to be high enough is to get a large percentage of consumer prices. them to not buy it and watch local CBS and/or Fox affiliates instead.

But it’s one thing if the situation seems unfair, and another if it violates federal antitrust laws. If prosecutors fail to present sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict on one of the key building blocks leading to an antitrust violation, it will not matter whether the NFL’s pricing strategy is unfair, unjust or seems wrong.

But even if the judge gives the NFL a legal Hail Mary after a jury verdict against it, the NFL would do well to take the jury’s decision to heart. Because it will mean that a group of average American citizens has determined that the NFL’s pricing practices for Sunday Ticket are unfair, unjust, and/or wrong.

Think about it this way. There is no law against being an asshole. Under certain circumstances, expressions of nonsensical tendencies can get you taken to court. If the jury thinks the defendant is an asshole, the jury may be more inclined to check the boxes that need to be checked in order to find against the defendant—not because it believes that the evidence presented at trial meets the technical legal requirements of the case in which it is argued. but because the jury thinks the defendant is an asshole.

So if the jury in a civil case finds against the defendant and the judge enters a verdict in favor of the defendant despite the verdict, the defendant must look in the mirror and ask himself a very important question.

Am I an asshole?