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ACC asks Florida appeals court to review first loss in FSU lawsuit

The ACC has asked a Florida appeals court to review its recent legal loss to Florida State.

At issue is whether FSU’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Coast Conference should proceed in Tallahassee while the ACC’s suit against the school proceeds in North Carolina.

The Leon County Circuit Court ruled that it should. The ACC, unsurprisingly, disagreed and formally asked Florida’s First District Court of Appeal to overturn that ruling Wednesday.

“In this high-profile lawsuit over the interpretation of college sports contracts, the trial court committed a judicial foul,” the ACC said in its 61-page petition for writ of certiorari.

To the ACC, the judicial foul centers on who sued whom first. The ACC’s case in its home court (North Carolina) was filed a day before FSU sued the conference in its home court (Leon County). Generally, the second suit is paused until the first one is resolved.

But a Leon County judge, John C. Cooper, ruled that FSU’s suit should remain ongoing. He cited concerns ranging from Florida’s public-records law to an improper rush to the courthouse by the ACC.

The conference’s petition said his ruling broke from “the essential requirements of law” by relying on out-of-state cases. Cooper’s “manufactured, novel approach,” the league wrote, doesn’t exist in Florida law and “trades decision certainty for decisional chaos.”

That chaos is playing out through multiple court cases in multiple states. The FSU-ACC case in Leon County is headed to mediation amidst the conference’s appeal. FSU has also appealed the ACC’s complaint in North Carolina to that state’s Supreme Court. Clemson and the ACC have related ongoing lawsuits against each other in both Carolinas with hearings scheduled for next month.

They all funnel into the same, broad question: What should FSU and Clemson owe the ACC if they leave the conference?

The conference has argued in North Carolina that the only way to ensure a “single, uniform interpretation” is to have all the cases play out there. The ACC plans to try to consolidate them after that state’s Supreme Court rules on FSU’s appeal.

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