U.S. women's national team players seek delay in June trial

Attorneys for members of the U.S. women's national team filed their first two motions related to the decision of the U.S. district court on May 1 to throw out their claim against U.S. Soccer under the Equal Pay Act.

1. The players filed what it termed a 54(b) motion, asking that a final judgment be entered in the aspect of the case related to the equal pay claim so they can immediately appeal the court's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

No final judgement has been entered since the court only granted U.S. Soccer partial summary judgment. Without a final judgment order, no appeal can be filed until the trial on the remaining aspects of the case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (claims of disparities in charter flights, hotel accommodations and medical and training support staff and services between the men's and women's national teams).

The players' argument is that the issues in the parts of the case that the court has not ruled on don't overlap with what has been decided and there is no just reason for a delay in the appeal. They argue that the view of the Ninth Circuit is to take a pragmatic approach and hear appeals even if there is some overlapping proof that is required in the different aspects of the case.

Attorneys for the players also raise the current travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic as reason to not delay hearing an appeal: It's going to be a while before any jury trials are held and that would only extend the process and create a backlog.

"A trial is unlikely to be able to proceed while the CDC’s travel restrictions remain in place and prevent witnesses and attorneys for both parties -- the vast majority of whom live out of state -- from traveling to the Central District for a jury trial."

They also argue that to not grant a 54(b) motion and decide the question of their equal pay claim, a settlement would prejudice efforts to resolve the case.

"Simply put, the dismissed equal pay claims constitute the core of Plaintiffs’ case, and without a final resolution on their status, it will be exceedingly difficult for the Parties ever to reach a settlement.

2. The players asked that the trial on the remaining Title VII claims currently scheduled to start June 16 in Los Angeles be postponed. They argue the delay will give the court time to decide the 54(b) motion.

If the players win the 54(b) motion, they will ask that the trial on the Title VII claims be delayed until the appeal is decided. At best, they will win the appeal and avoid the district court holding two trials at different times -- one now on the Title VII claims, and the other on the equal pay claim. At worse, they'll have the trial on the Title VII claims after they exhaust their equal pay appeals.

If the district court rejects the 54(b) motion, the players ask that a date for the trial "a few months out, at a time that is practicable in light of COVID-19 restrictions."

Bottom line: Absent a settlement, this case will drag on for years.

1. An appeal could take 12-20 months to be heard and another 3-12 months for a decision, per AP.

2. Even if the players won the appeal of the equal day dismissal, that doesn't mean they win the case. It would go back to district court on all aspects of the Equal Pay Act claim and Title XII claims.

3. And depending on the verdicts, another round of appeals could follow.

5 comments about "U.S. women's national team players seek delay in June trial".
  1. Wooden Ships, May 9, 2020 at 10:21 a.m.

    USSF misplayed this, over the years, so I'm hoping they can get this resolved. Which means, the players have to ask for something less than the moon and stars. To be honest, I'm growing weary of the whole thing. 

  2. Tom Swan, May 9, 2020 at 12:03 p.m.

    Yea, I feel weariness setting in as well. WNT's case doesn't appear as strong once all the numbers are crunched. And asking USSF for $67 million was simply absurd when their beef on that is with FIFA. Sue them on that issue if they can, FIFA is long overdue in creating some parity between women's and men's soccer, and not just in WWC payouts.

    How is the WNT paying their increasingly heavy legal fees in all this?

  3. Bob Ashpole, May 9, 2020 at 1:26 p.m.

    Good article, Paul. Asking the judge to certify an interlocutory appeal is typical of complex litigation like this. The one comment I have, is that the article ignores the possibility that the appellate court could reverse the lower court and grant partial summary judgment to the plantiffs on the equal pay act case.

    Regardless of who prevails on a possible appeal, it would be unlikely that "all aspects" would remain open for resolution. Between the lower court decision and the appellant decision, some aspects would be expected to be resolved.

    Because actual payment should be determined and compared on an individual basis, I would expect that the case would be remanded to the trial court to make findings on the payents (unless of course the court has already made findings not mentioned in the media).

    I qualify this as speculation on my part based on the media articles.

  4. Francisco Marcos, May 9, 2020 at 2:18 p.m.

    This should never have come to this level.. but BOTH sides, both, are to blame.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, May 9, 2020 at 5:34 p.m.

    Agreed Fransisco. Hello from the old SISL days. Hope you're well. 

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