Wednesday, December 25, 2013

ESPN, Inc. v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball case brief

ESPN, Inc. v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball case brief summary
76 F. Supp. 2d 416 (1999)

Plaintiff television network moved in limine to preclude the submission of evidence of damages by defendant major sports league in upcoming trial over defendant's preemption of game broadcasts, on the grounds that plaintiff had fully paid defendant under their contract, and defendant failed to provide any basis for damages.

Plaintiff network had a contract to televise defendant's baseball games on certain dates. Plaintiff preempted six games so it could televise football instead. Plaintiff argued that because it had paid defendant the contract amount, and defendant had not set forth any specific dollar amount of monetary damages, defendant should be precluded from presenting evidence of anything other than nominal damages for plaintiff's breach.


  • The court agreed that under New York law, a party seeking compensatory damages had the burden of proof and should present to the court a proper basis for ascertaining the specific damages it seeks to recover. 
  • In particular, damages for loss of goodwill, business reputation, and future profits must be proven with reasonable certainty in amount. 
  • Defendant had never specified damages and never specified a method of calculation of damages, despite numerous requests to do so in discovery proffered by plaintiff.
Plaintiff network's motion in limine to preclude evidence of more than nominal damages was granted, because defendant had been paid under the contract and failed to make any requisite showing of compensatory damages under any factual basis.

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