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PHILADELPHIA WORLD HOCKEY CLUB, INC. v. PHILADELPH

September 27, 1972

PHILADELPHIA WORLD HOCKEY CLUB, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY CLUB, INC., et al., Defendants


Higginbotham, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAM

HIGGINBOTHAM, District Judge.

 In the courts of Chicago and Philadelphia, the litigants and their counsel have exerted an aggressiveness equal to the vigor which their purported superstar, Robert M. Hull, has exemplified on the ice rink.

 All parties concede that Hull is "one of, if not the greatest, professional hockey players in the world."

 But after the thousands of words of adoration and occasional invectives by counsel, the case can be distilled to two relatively simple issues:

 First, despite 28 U.S. Code, § 2283, does this Court have jurisdiction to enjoin the Chicago Blackhawk Hockey Team from litigating their action which was filed against Robert M. Hull and his agent on August 18, 1972, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, docketed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, as Cause No. 72-CH 4727?

 Secondly, if this Court is not precluded from jurisdiction by 28 U.S. Code § 2283, should, as a matter of discretion, the Court restrain the parties from litigating the aforementioned case in the Circuit Court of Cook County tomorrow morning, September 28, 1972?

 The case in the Circuit Court of Cook County was removed at the request of Hull and his agent to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After proceedings before three United States district judges there, Judge Parson, Judge Lynch, and Judge Decker, the case was remanded to the Circuit Court of Cook County. Upon remand, and with the express agreement of counsel for Hull, the state trial judge set September 28, 1972, as the hearing date for the Blackhawks' motion for preliminary injunction, and further granted a temporary restraining order enjoining Hull until September 30, 1972, from doing those activities recited in the Blackhawks' prayer for relief in the Chicago Circuit Court case.

 Jerome H. Torshen, as counsel in this case, has been, like ancient Gaul, divided in three parts, with different loyalties and different positions, as he spoke for different clients. In the circuit-court case, while representing Hull, he agreed and signed through his authorized representative, a consent decree, for the case to be tried on September 28, 1972. After he had made the latter agreement but then acting as counsel for another client, Sports Centerpoint Enterprises, the Winnipeg Jets, and perhaps also acting on behalf of the Chicago Cougars, he then challenged the Blackhawks proceeding with the trial in the state court on September 28, 1972, which very trial he had agreed to while representing Hull.

 While this latter challenge was pending before my good friend, Judge Decker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the entire case, including the issues presented here, was transferred to the United States District Court of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S. Code § 1404(a). The matter was expedited, the record was flown in on Monday night, and we had a conference at 8:30 A.M., Tuesday, September 26th, and set the schedule for the matters which have been argued before us today.

 The transfer under § 1404(a) was made purportedly because of litigation involving the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association pending before me where pretrial conferences had been held in our court, discovery and pretrial dates had been set, and arguments on motions for summary judgment had been scheduled for October 9, 1972, Columbus Day, theoretically an official holiday. Evidentiary trials are tentatively scheduled for October 10, 1972, if on October 9, 1972, I hold that evidentiary trials will be appropriate.

 I regret the frantic pace to which all of the parties have been subjected. Counsel have worked diligently to expedite the matter so that I could make a judgment at the earliest possible date, but the necessity of the schedule has been caused because the World Hockey League has scheduled openers on or around October 11th or October 12th, 1972.

 The threshold-jurisdictional issue is whether 28 U.S. Code § 2283 as enacted in 1948, precludes this Court from granting an injunction to stay the aforementioned ...


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