Major League Baseball v.
Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals 331 F.3d 1177 (11th Cir. 2003) Key Search Terms: antitrust, MLB, civil investigative demands (CIDs), exemption, contraction, Fourth Amendment Facts In November 2001, a MLB decided to contract two teams, the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The former Attorney General (AG) of Florida, Robert Butterworth, in an effort to keep both teams in Florida issued several civil investigative demands (CIDs) to MLB, Commissioner Allan Selig, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Florida Marlins. Issued pursuant to the AG’s authority under Florida antitrust law, the CIDs were broad in scope requiring each recipient to answer several interrogatories and produce voluminous documents. However, MLB refused to answer the CIDs claiming it has a federal right exempting it from an antitrust enforcement suit which extends to administrative investigations. The District Court agreed, holding the antitrust exemption covered the business of baseball and that state antitrust laws do not apply to the proposed contraction. Issue Must MLB answer the CIDs and does MLB’s antitrust exemption allow MLB not to answer the CIDs? Holding First, the Eleventh Circuit held that the federal exemption preempts state antitrust law and that the issue of contraction is outside of antitrust prosecution because deciding the number of teams in the league is at the heart of the business of baseball. Second, contrary to the district court’s finding that the exemption precluded investigation, the Eleventh Circuit held that Florida’s AG could not proceed with investigation in this case because of the Fourth Amendment and state law. The Fourth Amendment has been held to limit the scope of investigatory power exercised by federal and state agencies. Specifically, investigations, or “fishing expeditions,” based solely upon legal activity are not within the broad investigative authority of regulatory agencies. Likewise Florida state law prohibits the AG from conducting baseless investigations by requiring the AG to have at least more than a mere intuition that illegal activity is afoot. Thus, with no evidence of wrongdoing by MLB, Selig, or the two Florida teams, the issuance of the CIDs did not pass any investigative standard. As a result, the CIDs do not need to be answered because they were issued without any authority. Summarized by: Gary Rom