On Wednesday a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota will hear a motion for a preliminary injunction brought by the plaintiffs in the case of Tom Brady et. al. v. The National Football League, the class action suit that Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and various other professional football players filed against the NFL in early March, seeking both an end to the current lockout and a more favorable collective bargaining agreement.
With billions of dollars on the line, the NFL has called in the big guns: Arguing on behalf of the league (and the owners) will be superstar litigator David Boies, who has been at the center of some of the most important legal battles of the past quarter century (and who was played by Ed Begley, Jr. in 2008’s Recount). As a sampling of his greatest legal hits indicates, going up against a bunch of overpaid guys who toss footballs around for a living will be just another day at the office.
Westmoreland v. CBS (1984)
Libel case seeking $120 million in damages brought by former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General William Westmoreland against CBS Television and Mike Wallace for televising a documentary entitled The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception.
Noteworthy Argument: "You discussed actual numbers of the enemy with the President, did you not?"
Outcome: The plaintiff withdrew the lawsuit before the case reached a jury.
United States v. Microsoft (1998)
A set of consolidated cases filed against Microsoft alleging that by bundling its browser with its software it was violating antitrust laws.
Client: The United States Treasury Department
Noteworthy Argument: "Not only do they give it away, they bribe people to take it... and they tie the product to their monopoly operating system."
Outcome: While Microsoft was found to have indeed constituted a monopoly the Justice Department did not break up the company but instead agreed to a lesser antitrust penalty.
Bush v. Gore (2000)
Landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that sought to overturn the Florida Supreme Courts order for a manual recount of ballots filed in the 2000 Presidential election.
Client: Presidential hopeful Al Gore
Noteworthy Quote: "This is the first case that I am aware of where, in a ballot contest, the court has refused to look at any ballot."
Outcome: Florida Secretary of State Kathleen Harrison’s original certification of George W. Bush as the winner of Florida was allowed to stand, and he went on to become the nation’s 43rd President, serving from 2001 to 2009.
A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc. (2001)
The Recording Industry Association of America filed suit against the peer-to-peer music sharing site, alleging copyright infringement on behalf of its artists.
Noteworthy Quote: "The law provides that companies cannot get together and pool their copyright and use them for anti-competitive purposes...Only about 2 percent of musical artists are signed to record label contracts. Napster enables the other 98 percent to reach audience and compete with record labels."
Outcome: Napster could be found liable for both contributory and vicarious infringement of the plaintiffs’ copyrights. In 2001 the service settled with songwriters and music publishers for $26 million. A year later it filed for bankruptcy.
Perry v. Schwarzenegger (2010)
Case challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages.
Client: Kristin M. Perry (et. al.)
Noteworthy Quote: "Well, sir, take California. You know that no openly gay or lesbian person has ever in the history of the state, been elected to statewide office, correct?"
Outcome: California’s Proposition 8 was struck down as unconstitutional.
Not bad for a dyslexic guy who didn’t learn to read until he was in the third grade.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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