Although co-founder Jerry Carroll said Dec. 18 that the antitrust lawsuit was over, the founders met a Monday night deadline to request another hearing in the case, keeping the lawsuit alive and possibly delaying when the track might eventually get a Sprint Cup date.
The founders are asking for a another hearing in front of a three-judge panel or a hearing in front of all 24 judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth District. A three-judge panel from the district issued an opinion Dec. 11 affirming a district court summary judgment ruling in favor of NASCAR and sister company International Speedway Corp. in the antitrust case.
“The panel’s decision undermines decades of established antitrust law … and needlessly increases the burden of enforcing our nation’s antitrust laws," the founders’ motion says.
The panel based its decision on the fact that the track founders’ experts needed to consider alternative forms of entertainment in trying to prove that NASCAR had a monopoly over a clearly defined market.
The founders’ attorneys argue that the panel erred because previous rulings in other cases indicate no market definition is necessary when evidence of monopoly power exists, that expert testimony is not a requirement to establish a market and that because the customers are race fans, race tracks are the relevant market.
“It is impossible for race tracks to switch to host ‘Bengals or Reds games,’ even though the panel suggested such a switch might be possible for final consumers," the founders’ motion argues.
The fight in appeals court would determine only whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. A victory by the founders would send the case back to U.S. District Court, and then both sides would prepare for trial.
"Obviously we are surprised they flip-flopped their recent decision to end the case," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said in a statement. “However, we remain prepared to continue to fight on behalf of the industry. NASCAR, like other sports leagues, can schedule its events where and when works best for everyone." Scenedaily.com