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Judge rules for NFL players against lockout

An undated photo provided the U.S. District Court in Minnesota shows U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson. Nelson has sided with NFL players and granted their request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout. Nelson issued her ruling late Monday, April 25, 2011. The ruling gives the players an early victory in their fight with NFL owners over a new collective bargaining agreement in the $9 billion business (AP Photo/U.S. District Court in Minnesota, File)

April 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A federal judge granted an injunction to a group of NFL players Monday that would lift an owner-imposed lockout.

National Football League players are in a battle with team owners over collective bargaining. Negotiations between the players union and the owners broke down on March 11. The owners ordered a player lockout. Players disbanded the union.

Some players filed an injunction together and an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. U.S. District Judge Susan Nelson ruled Monday, granting a request for a preliminary injunction to lift the imposed lockout.

The players want a new collective bargaining agreement.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said she was swayed by the players' argument that that the lockout, now in its second month, was causing irreparable harm to their careers.

The owners argued it was their right to institute the lockout and suggested Nelson didn't have jurisdiction while the National Labor Relations Board considers an unfair labor charge filed by the league that players didn't negotiate in good faith.

Nelson disagreed, and said the NLRB proceeding shouldn't be used to affect the court case here.

Nelson heard arguments on the injunction at a hearing on April 6 and ordered the two sides to resume mediation while she was considering her decision. The owners and players, who failed to reach consensus after 16 days of mediated talks earlier this year, met over four days with a federal magistrate but did not announce any progress on solving the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

They are not scheduled to meet again until May 16, four days after another judge holds a hearing on whether players should get damages in their related fight with owners over some $4 billion in broadcast revenue.

The NFL reportedly generates $9 billion annually.

NFL team owners are expected appeal the judge's ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.