Glimpse inside Florida courtroom raises more questions in WPS-Borislow case

Today’s espnW story hints at the direction the WPS-Borislow legal proceedings will take in the wake of league’s decision to suspend the 2012 season.

A key issue: Would U.S. Soccer allow exhibition games between a magicJack exhibition team and WPS teams? WPS says definitely not. Borislow’s legal team says it wasn’t cut and dried, and in any case, the court transcripts show that the deal wasn’t even dependent on that.

Look at these court transcripts and decide for yourself. First up, the court hearing that was supposed to be a four-hour session on “irreparable harm” but instead became the announcement of the deal:

Then the telephone conversation between the parties and the judge:

I’d love to hear everyone’s comments.

The other news today: Abby Wambach appeared at a celebration in Kansas City, and ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel was there to get a word with her. The quote getting the most attention:

The truth is that the responsibility is all of ours. Nothing rises or fails with one person. We all need to step back, look at ourselves, and take responsibility for all of the things. Nobody is talking about the amazing things Dan did and how he treated his players. Everybody focuses all the attention on the negative. And that’s not how we’re going to get the WPS back and running. You can’t build something great on negativity. It has to be in a positive manner.

That’s not going to calm magicJack critics, who think players were so content with their salaries and creature comforts that they turned a blind eye to the issues raised by the league, the union, Ella Masar and others. And when you have WPS founders like Peter Wilt saying the whole thing needs to be scaled way back, you have to wonder how many other investors would be willing or able to step forward and match the “amazing things” Wambach’s describing.

But Wambach has also called for people to lose the egos and get past the issues that have come between them. Judge Sasser could very well order people to do that next week. We’ll see how that goes. And as one lawyer says in the transcripts, the devil is in the details.

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10 Responses to Glimpse inside Florida courtroom raises more questions in WPS-Borislow case

  1. Mickey says:

    Apparently Wambach likes to call Dan B. ‘Daddy’

  2. HWah says:

    Hmm. It appeared from the first transcript the league had left itself some wiggle room via needing the two additional owners approval, but in the subsequent transcript they are saying they weren’t trying to get out of the settlement but that USSF rejected it and hence they are stuck. It seems like going forward they couldn’t agrue that it was voted down by owners, but who knows.

    It also seems like they all are trying to say a) there are some unknown financial terms and agreements to settle the litigation that aren’t being read into the record and b) one of the agreements to settle the litigation is this new business deal they are entering into for soccer games with Borislow’s team.

    This business deal also seems to be subject to a term sheet, which can be a binding contract between the parties. So, here’s another agreement that Borislow can say the league breached. I guaranty that there is a confidentiality provision in the term sheet, so we won’t see that, unless it ends up in another public court filing.

    Also, welcome to the middle of the morass USSF.

    As I said yesterday, wow.

    Thanks for the update….great reporting.

  3. Diane says:

    So if I understand this, the judge is being asked to rule on whether there was a settlement and if it still exists by the plaintiff. Dan agreed to withdraw the request for injunctive relief, but reserve the right to reinstate it should WPS try to pull a fast one. And she was asked to dismiss the case by the defendant.

    My take: There was a settlement that USSF didn’t buy into, which nullified it. WPS wants to finally go to arbitration (where they will probably win). Dan might have thought he would win in arbitration at one point, but isn’t so sure now, which is why he offered so many different compromises. The judge will deny any settlement existed, accept the withdrawal of the request for injunctive relief w/o prejudice and order them into alternative dispute resolution. What a convoluted way to get back to where they should have started in the first place.

    Geez, you’ve either got to love the legal system or hate it, either way it sucks you in.

  4. Roger says:

    I had a long comment virtually finished, then re-read the transcripts and realized I was probably wrong and definitely confused. So I hope Diane’s synopsis is correct because I understand and agree with it. Now I can go to bed with a clear mind :)

  5. HWah says:

    Here are my final speculations and then I’m entering a 12 step program to get over my addiction to this squabble.

    1. It appears to be in dispute (shocking!), at least through these transcripts and other press I’ve read, whether or not USSF said no or whether it was pending or whether ultimately no special exception was needed here.

    2. In the prior legal document post here by Beau, Borislow’s attorneys mentioned the WPS’s “continuing duty to cooperate in good faith” to get USSF approval. The quoted language sounds to me like something straight from a contract, or say, a term sheet.

    3. Assuming no business compromise is forthcoming, that is the hook to continue the litigation to pressure the WPS–was there good faith negotiatons here. Now, it could also put pressure on the USSF in court (or whatever dispute resolution is in the term sheet), if Borislow so chooses.

    I just get the feeling that he is bound and determined to stay involved with the USWNT and professional soccer and is clearly not going to walk away even though “everyone” says no and even though he apparently repeatedly breached the WPS agreement.

    This is so not my area, but these are my impressions; they are worth the paper they are printed on and there’s no paper here.

  6. Gerry Marrone says:

    Beau – I’m not a lawyer, but it would appear to me that WPS won this round. I wonder if Dan’s lawyers get paid by the word, since they repeated themselves over and over on the point that they felt like they had a deal. As I understand it there was no deal unless it was blessed by USSF. USSF then said no, but obviously won’t come out publicly and say so. The whole idea of the deal was to allow the USWNT players to play on mJ. Then Dan’s team says well if they said no to deal one, lets make deal 2 – no NT players. I don’t think that was part of the original deal – which means back to square one.

    With the status of the league in suspension, what does Dan expect – the judge is going to say, wait a minute – now you HAVE to play? This is still America, these owners have lost so much money – they can’t be forced by any lawsuit to play the season and continue to lose money. They could simply claim bankruptcy and walk away.

    Dan doesn’t like to hear the word no, does he?

  7. Jamie says:

    This is what I take away from the transcripts:

    (1) The proceeding the Judge ruled on here is on a motion to suspend the 2/1 hearing. Borislow is arguing that because the 2012 season is suspended, there is no need to have a hearing on an injunction geared toward their reinstatement to participate in 2012.

    (2) At the end, the Judge invited both parties to submit motions and oppositions to enforce the settlement agreement for consideration. Borislow’s attorneys said (somewhere in there) they are more than likely to file such a motion to enforce. So everything on that point is pending.

    (3) However, based on their arguments regarding suspending the 2/1 hearing, it seems that:

    Borislow is arguing that the settlement agreement (terms described in the first transcript) was final, and the only issue for USSF to approve was whether they would allow the NT members to play in the exhibition matches. They are also suggesting that the deal could move forward without the NT players so it should be enforced.

    WPS is arguing that the settlement agreement is not final because USSF will not approve the agreement. WPS contends that USSF will not allow NT players to play on a team with no league affiliation, thereby leaving the WPS with no other alternative but to reinstate Borislow’s team into their league (the heart of the dispute). WPS is suggesting that if there are other scenarios that do not involve the NT players then they are open to discussing them.

    To me, it seems that everything hinges on whether the deal really is final and enforceable with Borislow arguing that the only “outstanding” piece was whether USSF would allow NT players to play in the exhibition matches and with WPS arguing that USSF approval is required in order to make the deal final and that USSF will not approve the agreement with NT players being on a team with no affiliation to a league.

    So the judge’s decision on whether the settlement agreement is final will be an important one. In the meantime, WPS wants to move forward with dispute resolution pursuant to the court ordering them to do so previously.

    In other words, to be continued …

  8. Ben says:

    @Beau

    These players need to comment. Stop acting like little girls and let the people know what their views are on the subject. They should be showing what it means to be a women athlete. This is time to be a role model for all the little girls-High school girls-college and grown women that you should always stand up for yourself.

    Tell people what they need as athletes to compete and be respected. Tell people if there was a hostile work place! I know of at least two places the players should speak out about.

    Its funny how we back away as reporters and fans just because this is dealing with women.

    The WPS did not fold because of one man. I would love to know based on what is the league telling everyone they will be back in 2013! I feel like we are talking about a over aged boxer at times.

  9. Pingback: In Quotes – The WPS/Borislow Matter « jrblogslife.com

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