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BSF Tallies Another Victory for NASCAR

Winter 2010

Helen Maher

For many years, BSF has navigated its extensive antitrust expertise to benefit longtime client NASCAR.

The Firm’s most recent major antitrust success for NASCAR came in December 2009 following an oral argument by managing partner David Boies before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court affirmed summary judgment in NASCAR’s favor and rejected all of Kentucky Speedway’s antitrust claims against NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation.  In its ruling, the Court stated that, “Despite evidence that NASCAR competes with various forms of entertainment —including other stock-car and open-wheel racing, other professional sports leagues, and recreational sports—[Kentucky Speedway's expert] identified only the Busch series and open-wheel racing series as possible substitutes.” 

This important ruling signifies that NASCAR is now free to award its races wherever it decides is best for NASCAR’s events and for its fans -- an affirmation of the right of sports sanctioning bodies to make these decisions without being second-guessed by a jury in an antitrust lawsuit.

The stage for this litigation was set in July 2005, when NASCAR faced claims brought by Kentucky Speedway for monopolization and conspiracy, seeking more than $1.2 billion in damages. In January 2008, Eastern District of Kentucky Judge William Bertelsman granted summary judgment to NASCAR and its affiliate International Speedway Corporation (also a BSF client in other matters). In rejecting Kentucky Speedway’s claims, Judge Bertelsman likened Kentucky Speedway to a "jilted distributor" and said it had failed to define a relevant antitrust market. Additionally, the court remained unconvinced, despite the plaintiff’s expert testimony, that NASCAR’s Sprint Cup races constitute a separate economic market.

On February 18th, the Sixth Circuit denied Kentucky Speedway's petition for an en banc hearing. 

In addition to Boies, BSF's team representing NASCAR in the Kentucky Speedway case included partners Stuart Singer, Helen Maher and William Dzurilla, counsel Olav Haazen, and associates Michael Merley, Marguerite Hogan, and Jack Wilson.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision represents the second major antitrust suit BSF has successfully managed for NASCAR.  The first, in 2004, resulted from a favorable settlement secured for NASCAR by a BSF team including partners Alan Vickery, Singer and Maher, in a similar action brought in Texas.

Related Lawyers: David Boies, Stuart H. Singer, Helen M. Maher, William T. Dzurilla, , Michael M. Merley, , Jack Wilson, Alan B. Vickery

Related Practice: Antitrust