824 F.2d 617 (8th Cir. 1987), 86-5142, Adduono v. World Hockey Ass'n

Docket Nº:86-5142.
Citation:824 F.2d 617
Party Name:8 Fed.R.Serv.3d 532 Ray ADDUONO, et al., Charles L. Abrahams, (non-party), Appellant, v. WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, et al., Appellees.
Case Date:July 17, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 617

824 F.2d 617 (8th Cir. 1987)

8 Fed.R.Serv.3d 532

Ray ADDUONO, et al., Charles L. Abrahams, (non-party), Appellant,

v.

WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, et al., Appellees.

No. 86-5142.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 17, 1987

Submitted March 10, 1987.

Page 618

David C. Doyle, San Diego, Cal., for appellant.

Richard A. Lockridge, Minneapolis, Minn., for World Hockey Assn.

Gary J. Haugen, Minneapolis, Minn., for National Hockey League.

Before McMILLIAN, BOWMAN and WOLLMAN, Circuit Judges.

McMILLIAN, Circuit Judge.

Charles L. Abrahams, an attorney, appeals from an order entered in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota awarding $5,000 in attorney fees to the World Hockey Association (WHA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) and imposing a $5,000 fine to be paid to the WHA and NHL. For reversal Abrahams argues that the district court lacked jurisdiction to issue such an order under either Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. 11, or under the inherent power of the court. 1 We agree and reverse the order of the district court.

The present action arises out of an alleged breach by Abrahams of an agreement settling a dispute between the WHA, the NHL and clients represented by Abrahams. In May 1982 Abrahams filed suit on behalf of 28 plaintiffs (primarily former hockey players) against 84 defendants, including the WHA, the NHL, member teams or owners of the teams, a number of pension and insurance trusts, and other individuals. The complaint alleged, among other things, antitrust violations and sought pension benefits.

After two years of litigation, the case was finally settled in December 1984. On December 14, 1984, a formal settlement agreement was executed by all counsel on behalf of the parties. On the basis of the written settlement agreement, the parties

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entered into a "Stipulation of Dismissal," which was presented to the district court on December 14, 1984. On the basis of the stipulation, the district court ordered all claims and counterclaims dismissed with prejudice. Adduono v. World Hockey Ass'n, Civ. No. 3-82-586 (D.Minn. Dec. 4, 1984) (order of dismissal).

The settlement agreement signed by the parties and counsel contained the following provision:

Each of the undersigned counsel for the plaintiffs hereby represent that they are not presently retained to represent, have not been requested to represent and have not offered to represent, either as counsel, agents or in any other capacity, any other individual, corporation, partnership or other legal entity for the purpose of pursuing any claim of any kind either asserted or unasserted, against the National Hockey League or any of its member clubs, or against the WHA or any of its former member clubs.

The settlement agreement provided, in addition, that the provision concerning payments to be made to the plaintiffs was conditioned upon the representations made in the above provision.

On October 19, 1984, approximately two months before signing the settlement agreement, Abrahams wrote to John Hall LeBlanc, one of his clients who was not involved in the lawsuit. (The NHL and WHA contend that Abrahams wrote the same letter to 155 former hockey players.) In the letter, Abrahams stated that he had discovered claims LeBlanc might have against the WHA and the NHL. Abrahams informed LeBlanc that he would not be able to prosecute the claims because of the settlement agreement, but referred LeBlanc to the law firm of Kolodny, Katlov & Pressman (Kolodny firm). Abrahams enclosed a retainer agreement from the Kolodny firm with the letter. Prior to sending the October 19, 1984, letter, the Kolodny firm had agreed to share legal fees from such actions with Abrahams in return for his assistance as an expert consultant.

On June 5, 1985, the Kolodny firm filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California against the NHL. The complaint allegedly included claims and language identical to those contained in the complaint filed by Abrahams against...

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