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January 10, 2014

What Will Happen if Alex Rodriguez Appeals?

Examining the Steve Garvey Precedent

by Eugene Freedman

Alex Rodriguez’s attorneys have, at various times, suggested that he will challenge the outcome of his Biogenesis suspension-related grievance arbitration should he not be satisfied with the result—and that only a result of no suspension will be acceptable. (Update: Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced Rodriguez's sentence, but only to 162 games. A-Rod does plan to appeal to federal court.) In a column in November, I wrote, “Courts grant great deference to labor arbitration and arbitrators under what’s referred to as the Steelworkers Trilogy, a series of cases issued by the Supreme Court in 1960.” That is true whether the case involves teamsters in Detroit or Chicago or baseball players in San Diego or New York.

Steve Garvey challenged the arbitrator’s decision in his collusion-related damages case all the way to the Supreme Court. (MLBPA v. Garvey, 532 U.S. 1015 (2001)). He lost. Similarly, any challenge to Arbitrator Frederic Horowitz’s pending award in the Rodriguez matter will be denied as well. Garvey’s case is interesting, however, because the Supreme Court laid out the standard courts must use in reviewing labor arbitration cases based upon prior case law, didn’t really add any new theory, and then applied that standard to a case involving the sport we all know and love.

After the Major League Players Association won its three collusion cases against the Clubs covering the 1985, 1986, and 1987 offseasons, the Union and the Clubs negotiated a global settlement agreement to deal with the question of damages. The league established a $280M fund to be distributed to affected players, and the MLBPA established a “Framework” to evaluate the individual players’ claims.

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Related Content:  Alex Rodriguez,  Arbitration,  Steve Garvey,  Law

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