The Chicago Cubs are in court today opposing a motion for a temporary restraining order against construction at Wrigley Field, filed late last week by the rooftops that are currently suing the team. At those links, you can see more about the legal issues involved in this case, if you are unfamiliar.
Yesterday, in advance of today’s hearing, the Cubs filed an opposition to the motion for a TRO, together with a handful of other legal documents. You can see the filings for yourself here at Crain’s.
The short version is that the Cubs brought down the legal hammer, and their lawyers have been working like mad dogs over the past few days. The Cubs’ response to the rooftops’ request for a TRO is a flow chart that looks something like this:
- The rooftops can’t get a TRO for a litany of reasons (no risk of irreparable harm, no sufficient urgency shown by rooftops);
- Even if the rooftops are right that there should be a preliminary injunction hearing, there’s no need for a TRO because the Cubs are ready to have that hearing right now;
- Even if there is a preliminary injunction hearing, the rooftops can’t actually get a preliminary injunction for a litany of reasons (no irreparable harm in waiting for trial, rooftops can be made whole by money damages, rooftops cannot show likelihood of success on the merits (primarily because the contract with the team permits this kind of expansion), and the balance of equities tilts in favor of the Cubs);
- Oh, and also, the rooftops can’t win their case at all, and here’s a huge, multi-factored brief on why the whole case should be dismissed.
The last part – the motion to dismiss the complaint – is both the most impressive and most important, since it is potentially dispositive of the whole case. Via various procedural methods, the Cubs didn’t have to respond to the complaint (the filing that opens the lawsuit) for several more weeks. In my experience, you rarely file anything more quickly than you actually have to, so I wonder if the rooftops will be slightly caught off guard by the Cubs going the full nine this soon with their motion to dismiss.
By so filing, the Cubs have triggered a rushed timeline for the rooftops, because now they have to promptly respond to the Cubs’ motion. And the Cubs’ motion is extremely deep, detailed, and exhaustive. I can’t speak to the merits of the arguments, but I will say that the briefing here is very well-crafted. I am familiar with the firm that the Cubs are using, and they don’t mess around.
For now, we’ll see what the court does on the TRO and the preliminary injunction. It’s very hard to see either being granted at this stage (but you never know for certain), and, from there, the next step will be the rooftops responding to the Cubs’ motion to dismiss. If the Cubs win that motion, sure, there can be appeals, but the most likely next step – based on nothing more than my own speculation and history with these kinds of cases – would be negotiations about selling the rooftop businesses.
UPDATE: After hearing arguments most of the day (into which I’m trying not to read too much, since I wasn’t there to listen, myself*), the court determined that it would issue a decision on the TRO tomorrow morning (Danny Ecker).
*(It would be just a temporary order anyway, so the fact that the court is going to wait until tomorrow morning to issue a decision could be a good sign for the Cubs (or it could simply mean that the rooftops raised some difficult issues for the court to consider).)