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Wilson Elser goes 3-0 on Injunctions Filed by Youth Football Teams

November 13, 2009
On behalf of their client, a national nonprofit youth football organization, Wilson Elser attorneys Anthony Corleto (Partner-Connecticut) and Valerie N. Kloecker (Associate-Boston) defeated injunctions brought by three disqualified teams seeking to gain post-season berths in regional championships. Winners at the regional level advance to the Super Bowl.

The first challenge was brought by a western New York team. After a hearing at the beginning of the 2009 season, the entire association was banned from post-season play because they violated pre-season practice rules by beginning scrimmage a month early. The team sought injunctive relief to set aside the post-season ban, arguing that they were denied due process and that they would suffer irreparable harm if they were not allowed to compete in post-season championships. Mr. Corleto appeared in New York State Supreme Court, Erie County, the morning after legal papers were served on the team and argued the matter at hand. The injunction was denied and the case was withdrawn.

The second challenge was brought by a Dorchester, Massachusetts team. After a fight between the team and a rival association from Rhode Island at the 2008 Super Bowl, league officials convened a Disciplinary Review Board. The board determined Dorchester to be the aggressor and that team officials abandoned their supervisory responsibility. Consequently, the Dorchester team was suspended from post-season play for three years, and officials from both associations were suspended from participation for one year. The Dorchester team brought its application in Suffolk County Superior Court. Ms. Kloecker appeared and argued the case. The injunction was denied and negotiations are pending as to the remaining two-year suspension.

The last challenge was brought by a Connecticut team. The team was disqualified after the first round of post-season championship play because one team member played the entire undefeated season under a false identity. Although of correct age and weight, the student was not able to meet the minimum academic qualifications; and hence registered using a friend’s identity. The second round of championship play was delayed one week to allow for the hearing. Mr. Corleto tried the case as an evidentiary hearing. After a full day, the court dismissed the case from the bench, quoting the nonprofit’s sportsmanship rule.

Mr. Corleto regularly consults with the organization on policies and administrative matters. He represents the nonprofit as a defendant in a variety of matters arising from league operations across the country.

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