A federal judge in New York has ruled that a group representing small businesses lacks standing in its lawsuit against Major League Baseball and declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have ordered baseball to move the game back to Atlanta.
Job Creators Network sued baseball for moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s new voting law, seeking to have the game moved back or more than $1 billion in damages.
The group says baseball cost Georgia small businesses millions of dollars, but U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni said JCN failed to cite a specific example of one of its members suffering actual injury.
“To say that the legal underpinnings of this lawsuit are weak and muddled is an understatement,” said Caproni in her decision.
The judge also rejected JCN’s argument that the organization had to divert resources to fight baseball’s decision. She said that activity was consistent with the group’s normal activities and did not mean they had standing in a lawsuit.
Major League Baseball decided to move the game from Truist Park in Cobb County to Denver in April following the passage of Georgia’s new voting law, which places additional requirements on those voting by mail and gives the state more control over local elections offices. The game is currently set for July 13th at Coors Field in Denver.
For an hour, Judge Caproni peppered JCN’s attorney Howard Kleinhendler with questions about the merits of the case and JCN’s standing.
Kleinhendler argued that baseball’s decision to move the game deprived residents of Georgia and small businesses represented by JCN of their constitutional rights.
“I’m struggling to understand your equal protection theory,” said Judge Caproni.
JCN argues because Georgia has a higher population of Black residents that Colorado, baseball’s decision discriminated against Black people. The judge wasn’t swayed.
“You haven’t shown that there’s a disproportionate impact on minority members of JCN,” said Judge Caproni. “You haven’t even alleged that there are any minority members of JCN.”
Kleinhendler lone example cited in the lawsuit was that of a softball tournament operator who had scheduled a tournament in Cobb County to coincide with this year’s All-Star Game. Kleinhendler says half of the teams pulled out of the tournament when the All-Star game was moved, costing the operator money.
“Just to be clear, this entire case is brought on a single softball tournament in terms of an actual, factual allegation of injury?”
“Yeah, at this point, yeah,” responded Kleinhendler.
Major League Baseball’s lawyers argued that the softball operator had no contract with MLB.
JCN’s lawsuit claims it had to divert resources to purchase ads and billboards to decry baseball’s decision to move the game. Judge Caproni asked Kleinhendler how that activism differed from JCN’s normal mission. Kleinhendler said it forced JCN to focus its resources on Georgia.
JCN’s lawsuit also claims that Major League Baseball is a “state actor” because of the tax breaks it receives and because many stadiums are publicly financed. Judge Caproni said JCN’s lawyers had misinterpreted two previous cases which opined on baseball’s position as a private corporation, Ludtke v. Kuhn in New York and Lewis v. Colorado Rockies Baseball Club.