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05-07-2004, 02:28 AM
David A. Rainer
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Bascially, you'd look to the language of the contract. It's almost a certain that a player contract has a clause that governs in the event of a labor dispute.

A force majeure clause often does cover labor disputes. But it is usually a labor dispute that does not directly involve the parties to the contract. For example, a dock workers strike makes delivery of goods impossible or impractical - force majeure would excuse performance.

I am almost positive that a players strike will not invoke a force majeure clause in favor of the striking players. Because, in this case, the player striking is the same player seeking to invoke force majeure. A force majeure clause is designed to excuse performance based upon the unforeseeable - either by forces of nature of the conduct of others. If a force majeure clause were permitted to excuse performance for the striking player, a strike could always use force majeure to excuse performance. It would be tantamount to breach under the guise of force majeure. But it is neither here nor there because the tenets of labor law are going to supersede doctrines of contract law.

And in the case of the lockout, there is no need to invoke force majeure because the players are already excused from contractual obligations by virtue of the owners' renunciation of the player contracts and labor agreement.

With all that said, I will reiterate that chances are the player contract is going to have a clause that governs in the case of labor disputes. When it is all said and done, usually what happens in non-sports collective bargaining is that some sort of mutual agreement is reached deciding the status of prior contracts after a new CBA is agreed upon (that way the mess does not end up in the courts).

Saxon Sports Information and Research

Last edited by David A. Rainer: 05-07-2004 at 02:33 AM.
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