Korein Tillery Secures Class Certification of Minor League Baseball Case

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Court recertifies class of minor league baseball players in fight to increase minor league pay

A California federal court late Tuesday recertified a class of minor league baseball players in the first-of-its-kind case seeking to increase minor league pay. The certification order permits thousands of minor league players to seek relief in court for the low pay they receive. The minor league class is represented by a team of lawyers from Korein Tillery LLC and from Pearson, Simon & Warshaw.

The case, Senne v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, No.3:14-cv-00608-JCS (N.D. Cal.) was filed in February 2014. It alleges that most minor league players earn less than $7,500 for an entire year of work. Minor league salaries start at $1,100 per month, and players are only paid during the season. Minor league players do not receive salaries during work periods such as spring training and instructional leagues, or for other work they perform outside the season.

The case further alleges that minor league salaries have only increased an average of 75 percent since 1976, even though inflation is more than 400 percent over the time period. Meanwhile MLB revenue has increased to $10 billion per year, and the average major league salary has grown by over 2,000 percent since 1976. Minor league players are employed and paid by the major league teams.

In October 2015, Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero of the Northern District of California preliminarily allowed the minor leaguers to proceed collectively under federal law. In the ensuing months, over 2,200 minor leaguers opted into the case. In July 2016, however, Judge Spero decertified the federal law collective. He also denied the minor leaguers’ request to proceed as a class action under several state laws.

After reviewing more evidence and hearing more arguments, Judge Spero’s order recertified a narrower class under federal and California law. According to court documents, while the exact composition of the California class is to be determined, it will include minor leaguers who have worked in the California League since 2010. According to one analysis (see attached), over 2,100 minor leaguers were assigned to the California League between 2010 and 2015.

The order states that the certified collective under federal law will include minor leaguers who opted into the case and who worked in spring training, extended spring training, instructional leagues, or the California League since 2011.

The court ordered the parties to propose a schedule for the remainder of the case by April 28, 2017.

Korein Tillery is an AV-rated, award-winning law firm with offices in St. Louis and Chicago. The firm has recovered billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, gaining a national reputation for aggressively and successfully pursuing a wide variety of complex civil cases. Korein Tillery was named by the National Law Journal to its "Plaintiffs' Hot List" in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013 as one of the nation's top plaintiffs' law firms. The firm was also recognized by the NLJ as America’s Elite Trial Lawyers for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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Jerry Brown
Korein Tillery
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