July 18, 2024

 FSU’s faces serious charges as efforts to dismiss ACC’s lawsuit against school denied by North Carolina judge..

Florida State’s fight to leave the ACC has hit its first hurdle.

The majority of Florida State’s arguments against the conference were rejected by North Carolina’s chief business court judge, Louis A. Bledsoe III, in the ACC’s lawsuit against the university to uphold the conference’s Grant of Rights agreement. The university had requested that the suit be stayed or dismissed while it pursued its own lawsuit against the conference in Florida.

FSU’s claims that the ACC brought its complaint too soon, that sovereign immunity shielded the university from state lawsuits, and that the university had violated good faith and fair dealing were among the reasons that were rejected.

“We are pleased with today’s decision, which confirms North Carolina courts are the proper place to enforce the ACC’s agreements and bylaws,” the ACC said in a statement. “We remain committed to acting in the best interests of the league’s members and will see this process through to protect and advance the ACC.”

Bledsoe, who appeared skeptical of Florida State’s arguments during the venue hearing last month, wrote that the “nature of the case and the applicable law strongly favor allowing this matter to proceed in North Carolina.”

“The Court concludes that a North Carolina court has ‘a local interest in resolving the controversy’ that exceeds the local interest of the Florida courts.”

“The nature of the case, the convenience of the witnesses, the relative ease of access to sources of proof, the applicable law, the burden of litigating matters not of local concern, the desirability of litigating matters of local concern in local courts and the ACC’s choice of the North Carolina forum, when considered in combination,decisively outweigh the FSU Board’s choice of the Florida forum for the determination of the enforceability of the Grant of Rights Agreements and the resolution of the ACC’s damages claims against the FSU Board for breach of those agreements.”

In addition, while not fully ruling on the claim itself, Bledsoe gave partial weight to the allegations that FSU breached confidentiality by publically discussing the television rights agreement between the ACC and ESPN.

“Although the FSU Board focuses on the ACC’s failure to allege that FSU signed a written agreement with the ACC or ESPN to maintain the confidentiality of the ESPN Agreements, the ACC has alleged that it expressly advised counsel for the FSU Board that counsel could review the ESPN Agreements at the ACC’s headquarters only if FSU maintained the confidentiality of those agreements.”

“Although the FSU Board was not a party to the ESPN Agreements, the Court concludes that the ACC has sufficiently pleaded at least an implied-in-fact contract between the ACC and the FSU Board to maintain the confidentiality of the terms of the ESPN

Agreements as well as the FSU Board’s breach — the Court therefore will deny the FSU Board’s Motion to Dismiss the ACC’s fourth cause of action for breach of contract concerning confidentiality.”

While five out of six arguments were shot down, the one that was granted was Florida State’s desire to dismiss the ACC’s claim that the university breached fiduciary duties to the conference.

“The FSU Board additionally contends that neither the ACC’s Constitution or Bylaws impose fiduciary duties on the Member Insitutions. The ACC argues in opposition that, by joining the Conference as a member institution, FSU entered into a “common and joint venture with the other member institutions,” and thereby has a fiduciary duty to “act in good faith, with due care, and in a manner in the best interests of the Conference.”

The ACC does not point to any provision of the ACC’s Constitution or Bylaws that affirmatively imposes fiduciary duties on current Members, nor is the Court able to find one. the ACC cannot establish the existence of a de jure fiduciary relationship with FSU under a joint venture theory. Nor has the ACC alleged sufficient facts to establish either the existence of a de facto fiduciary relationship or a contractual imposition of fiduciary duties under the ACC’s Constitution and Bylaws.”

The Court will therefore grant the FSU Board’s Motion to Dismiss the ACC’s fifth claim for relief for breach of fiduciary duty and dismiss this claim with prejudice.”

The first hearing on FSU’s suit against the ACC is scheduled to be held in Leon County on Tuesday.

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