Down Goes Goliath!

Down Goes Goliath!

Reputedly the executives at clear channel communications in no way discovered what bill gates — and each person who changed into paying attention — found out at some stage in u. S. V. Microsoft: be careful what you electronic mail, due to the fact email by no means dies. Rather, in inner electronic mail messages from late 2001, executives of clear channel, which owns a few 1,2 hundred radio stations national, discussed their efforts to squeeze jamsports, an unbiased chicago-based sports activities promoter, out of the enterprise of promoting american bike affiliation “supercross” dust bike racing. Those messages were laced with tough-man posturing and low profanities. In one, clear channel motorsports president charlie mancuso exhorts his human beings to “get with our radio stations in l. A. And columbus and get the on-air expertise to begin speaking approximately how the ama and jam are fucking up the sport of supercross.” in some other, advertising and marketing vice president ken hudgens says, “we want to be scaring human beings — now not the other way round.” “it was the top men in the most important amusement empire that have been the use of this street language,” says jeffrey singer, a call associate inthe chicago regulation firm of segal mccambridge singer & mahoney, which took at the case for jamsports against clear channel. “they were using the kind of language that gangsters would use. You know, ‘permit’s kill and crush and destroy them, ok? Allow’s shove it up their ass.’ i suggest this is the kind of stuff high school bullies say.” chicago-primarily based live performance promoter jerry mickelson had fashioned jamsports at the side of arny granat, his accomplice in jam productions, and 4 others involved in diverse elements of song and race vehicle driving merchandising. Their plan turned into to draw on their very own mixed enjoy to promote sporting occasions, and in 2001 they entered into an in depth preliminary agreement and different negotiations with the yank motorbike affiliation’s ama pro racing subsidiary to sell the ama’s supercross races in venues throughout the midwest and national. But whilst mickelson got down to comfortable bookings, he discovered that stadium operators were mysteriously rejecting his offers. “i was presenting coins money to the venues,” he says. “and i was being grew to become down with those hard safety clauses, which i had in no way encountered before in my 33 or 34 years of manufacturing events.” he also determined that clear channel, which had simply lost out to jamsports in its try to ink a multiyear cope with the ama, had now developed a relationship with an global racing federation for supercross and became reserving its races into the very equal stadiums that were turning him down. Not most effective that, but live shows and other events produced with the aid of clean channel already dominated the calendars at those venues, accounting for as a good deal as 70 percent of the market nationwide. Mickelson smelled a rat. “i had a sturdy feeling that they had carried out something illegal,” he says. In the beginning he retained the services of sperling & slater, a chicago company known for its enjoy in antitrust regulation, which used the legal system of discovery to attain the email messages. “once i examine them i was shocked — the tactics they used, and the reality that they were all in those e-mails,” he says. “so i felt we had a sturdy case, and that i felt that a jury could be just as repulsed as i used to be after analyzing them.” however as it became an increasing number of clear that clear channel could no longer settle out of court with jamsports, he realized he had to find special felony representation. “sperling & slater is a awesome antitrust firm,” he says. “but i could not find the money for to pay their hourly quotes, understanding that this example turned into gonna go to trial.” mickelson’s seek added him to segal mccambridge, in which singer, mark crane and paul wojcicki all had a historical past in company trial work, dealing especially with contract disputes and product liability. Singer has practiced law in illinois for 30 years and speaks within the assured, measured tones of an experienced courtroom endorse. Crane, originally from indiana, has practiced in chicago seeing that 1981, coaches basketball in his spare time and describes himself as a “huge family man.” wojcicki, a native of chicago’s south aspect, has been practicing law because 1989 and says that whilst he has at times harbored political goals, “i’m having so much amusing here that i’ve stayed out of politics thus far.” crane admits that he and his colleagues hesitated earlier than taking the jamsports case, partly because of their relative loss of revel in in antitrust regulation; but, as singer explains, “the no. 1 issue have to always be the patron. Is the client’s cause one i'm able to become aware of with? Is it the form of case i experience i have the know-how to deal with? Is it the form of case that a jury can turn on to? There's no properly trial lawyer that’ll tell you that they suppose they are able to do as powerful a task for a case after they can't identify with the events.” in this case, he says, the email messages gave him confidence. “any jury in the united states — no longer simply massive town, now not simply chicago — could were indignant via this stuff … that is the type of thing that suggests that even david has a chance towards goliath.” as the attorneys from segal mccambridge prepared to take over from sperling & slater, clear channel’s trio of lawyers from the company of freeman, freeman & salzman used diverse pretrial motions to try to maintain the dispute from proceeding into courtroom. “i assume they felt assured that the choose was going to knock the case out of court docket sooner or later,” crane says. “didn’t appear.” in fact, whilst the case went to trial in february 2005 earlier than choose matthew kennelly of the 7th circuit u. S. District courtroom, in downtown chicago’s dirksen federal constructing, it become the first time a clear channel competitor had ever been capable of argue its complaint earlier than a jury. As singer, crane and wojcicki scrambled to put together for their courtroom date, the legal professionals from sperling & slater helped by way of supplying the advantage of their antitrust revel in. “while we jumped in, the case become moving into complete motion, so we had to arise to speed quickly on the issues,” wojcicki explains. “this become a case that concerned 18 counts, and i believe eleven or 12 of them had been antitrust counts. Sperling & slater provided a source for us to say, ‘appearance, here’s where we’re going with this, check this, are you cool with that?’ and there has been specifically lots of reassurance we got from them: ‘you men are exactly where you need to be in phrases of the arguments you’re making and what the regulation is.’” at the beginning, singer, the lead trial recommend who dealt with the hole and final arguments before the jury, counseled mickelson that they might have true days and terrible days in court. However as the case accumulated steam on a daily basis, he quickly determined things going greater without difficulty than anticipated. “we did no longer have a horrific day,” he says. “we had maybe a horrific afternoon right here, or a morning that didn’t pass in addition to we desired, however there really became now not a time when we felt we have been in hassle.” singer says that clear channel’s lead counsel opened with a private attack on mickelson. “he flat-out referred to as my patron a liar. And he become going to prove that [mickelson] was a perjurer, that he fooled numerous human beings, and [that] he became gonna try to idiot the jury. He tried, for the duration of move-exam of my purchaser, to impeach him or show that he became providing inconsistent testimony. But the jury manifestly did not experience that way. In fact, his efforts caused our consumer’s credibility, within the eyes of the jury, to end up more desirable in place of faded.” a turning point in the lawsuits got here whilst clear channel executives mancuso, hudgens and eric cole took the stand. “the ones three people are companions that i felt simply discovered clear channel’s evil corporate tradition,” says singer. “the testimony associated with their e-mails, and their efforts to try to give an explanation for the ones e-mails away, which in my view miserably failed, inspired the jury to the point that when the trial they described the clear channel executives as ‘scary.’ that become the phrase some of them used.” mickelson concurs. “i’d say they came across the manner their emails had been written,” he says, “which changed into no longer very flattering for clear channel.” “and that’s what we argued to the jury,” says singer. “that they have a corporate culture that relied upon intimidation, upon bullying, upon threatening people [who don’t] do matters the manner they want.” “they even went to stadiums wherein they have been now not making plans on setting on any occasions [and pressured exhibitors not to deal with mickelson and jamsports],” crane says. “of route they denied that they ever made any try to do this.” mickelson nevertheless has strong feelings about the corporate behemoth. “you gotta realize, i’ve in no way visible extra court cases filed towards a organization by means of different business competitors, with the aid of municipalities, for throwing their weight around, for abusing the laws which can be presupposed to shield competition. They agree with in monopolies, and that’s how they acted.” there were still issues. Antitrust cases have usually been difficult to prove, says wojcicki, and latest trends favor laissez-faire competition. “the courts have now attempted to take greater of an financial approach rather than a legal method. Truely you see that in the writings of the 7th circuit — the antitrust statutes are purchaser safety statutes, and except you display an immediate damage to customers it’s without a doubt not an antitrust subject. And that’s one of a kind than the use of it to police commercial enterprise behavior and the operation of monopolies. In case you’re a monopolist, and also you’re an efficient monopolist, and that provides an economic benefit to customers, we’re gonna leave you alone.” crane says the client protection argument became the backbone of clear channel’s courtroom protection — “that the handiest damage here from some thing they did become to jamsports, and that there was no harm to clients; that we couldn’t show directly the fee of supercross tickets has gone up because of what they’ve done, or some thing like that. And you understand, in the long run we did no longer succeed inside the antitrust count number. We nonetheless experience there was an antitrust violation, genuinely, but likely the key issue there has been: does the law require that you display harm to clients?” even though clean channel correctly defended itself against the antitrust accusation, the court docket determined it become at fault for interfering with jamsport’s agreement with the ama. The jury awarded jamsports $ninety million in damages, such as $seventy three million in punitive damages — and mickelson celebrated the decision with his companions and criminal group. Mickelson says the segal mccambridge legal professionals “have been, in one phrase, high-quality. The amount of time that they placed into this example — understanding every file, knowing each e-mail — become simply an superb attempt through a number of humans. I suggest, it wasn’t just the three attorneys in the court. There had been plenty of humans at the company doing the work faraway from the court docket, in their places of work.” in a publish-trial motion, clean channel’s felony team persuaded the choose to vacate the jury’s judgement on one of the three counts that were settled in courtroom. This indicates singer, crane and wojcicki need to now prepare to attempt the case all another time, in front of a new jury. “we’re mildly upset because we’d as a substitute have closure to the case,” says singer. “we have to put our case on again, however the jury’s no longer going to should adjudicate whether or not clean channel is at fault in any way. The judge is going to train them that they had been, and clean channel is aware of it. All of the jury has to decide is how lots jamsports have to be presented. Clean channel in reality didn’t win much besides the possibility of having any other jury whack ’em again on damages.” “so the awful news is we ought to do all of it another time,” says wojcicki. “and the good information is we could become with a fair more favorable result than the primary time round.”