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North Carolina judge reject FSU bid to dismiss ACC case

A North Carolina judge on Thursday rejected a request by Florida State University to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Atlantic Coast Conference in a legal battle playing out in two states.

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Louis Bledsoe, chief business court judge in Mecklenburg County, N.C., issued a 76-page ruling that also turned down an alternative request by FSU for a stay.

That request was aimed at allowing a lawsuit filed in Tallahassee to move forward first.

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FSU filed the Tallahassee lawsuit on Dec. 22 challenging what it describes as more than $500 million in penalties if it wants to exit the North Carolina-based conference.

But the day before the Tallahassee case was filed, the conference filed a lawsuit in North Carolina against FSU about many of the same issues, which focus on media rights. FSU sought dismissal of the North Carolina case on a series of grounds.

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Among other things, it sought dismissal of an allegation by the conference that the university had breached what are known as grants of rights involving television revenue.

But Bledsoe wrote that FSU “should be stopped from challenging or has waived its right to challenge these agreements by its conduct in accepting the benefits of these agreements for many years without protest.

Accordingly, the court will deny the FSU board’s motion to dismiss the ACC’s claim for breach of the grant of rights and amended grant of rights.”

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In denying the stay, Bledsoe wrote that the “ACC did not engage in improper conduct or ‘procedural fencing’ in filing this action in North Carolina.

Accordingly, considering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the filing of this action and the Florida action, the court concludes, in the exercise of its discretion, that the ACC’s choice of forum is entitled to deference on this record.”

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday in the Florida case.

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