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8th Circuit Won’t Budge NFL Lockout

ST. LOUIS (CN) - The NFL's lockout can remain in place until a full appellate hearing on the measure's legality occurs, a divided 8th Circuit ruled late Monday.

A federal judge had ruled to lift the lockout on April 25, but the circuit quickly blocked that injunction with a temporary stay.

On Monday, the federal appeals court stood by its earlier decision, finding that the league and its 32 teams would suffer some irreparable harm without a stay.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 3.

In the majority opinion, Judges Steve Colloton and Duane Benton seemed unconvinced that the NFL players' union had disbanded, which would make the lockout illegal. The judges criticized the District Court for not considering the harm caused to the owners by lifting the lockout.

"We do not agree, however, with the district court's apparent view that the balance of the equities tilts heavily in favor of the players," the majority wrote. "The district court gave little or no weight to the harm caused to the league by an injunction issued in the midst of an ongoing dispute over terms and conditions of employment." Judge Kermit Bye dissented, rejecting the NFL's argument that it needed the lockout to prevent free-agency chaos.

"The preliminary injunction does not dictate the NFL's free agency rules, or any other conduct in general, outside of the lockout," Bye wrote.

Colloton, Benton and Bye are scheduled to preside over the June 3 hearing.

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