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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court — No. SCWC-15-0000663

No. SCWC-15-0000663 Thursday, July 19, 2018, 10 a.m.

DANE S. FIELD, Trustee of the Bankruptcy Estate of ALOHA SPORTS INC., Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. THE NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, an Unincorporated Association, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for Petitioner:

Frederick W. Rohlfing, III

Attorneys for Respondent:

William C. McCorriston and Jordon J. Kimura; Gregory L. Curtner, (pro hac vice)

NOTE: Order accepting Application for Writ of Certiorari, filed 05/07/18.

COURT: MER, C.J., PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This case arises out of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) decertification of the 2003 Seattle Bowl, a NCAA Division I-A post-season college football bowl. The independent bowl-sponsoring agency of the Seattle Bowl, Aloha Sports, Inc. (Aloha Sports), contends that the NCAA unfairly decertified the Seattle Bowl to disrupt Aloha Sports’ agreement with Pro Sports, Inc. that if executed, would have transferred control and ownership of Aloha Sports, including sponsorship of the Seattle Bowl, to Pro Sports, Inc. Aloha Sports maintains that at the time the NCAA decertified the Seattle Bowl, the NCAA knew about its agreement and encouraged Pro Sports, Inc. to apply directly to the NCAA to become the bowl-sponsoring agency for the Seattle Bowl.

Aloha Sports subsequently brought suit against the NCAA for, inter alia, unfair methods of competition (UMOC) under Hawaii Revised Statutes § 480-2. The Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed the Circuit Court of the First Circuit’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the NCAA, finding that Aloha Sports failed to present evidence to sustain its UMOC claim.

On certiorari to this court, Aloha Sports contends that the ICA erred in affirming summary judgment, as it required Aloha Sports to (1) establish that the NCAA’s alleged anticompetitive behavior–the unfair decertification of the Seattle Bowl–caused actual harm to the market; (2) demonstrate that Aloha Sports’ financial injury was a result of the anticompetitive effects of the NCAA’s alleged conduct on the market; (3) identify the relevant market; and (4) show that Aloha Sports was in competition with the NCAA. Aloha Sports maintains that under this court’s most recent precedent, to withstand summary judgment on an UMOC claim, Aloha Sports needed only to prove that the NCAA’s alleged unfair decertification harmed Aloha Sports and that the NCAA’s alleged conduct could be harmful to competition.

In response, the NCAA contends that the ICA correctly applied this court’s prior decisions and that summary judgment was appropriate because Aloha Sports did not allege and prove that the NCAA’s purported unfair decertification of the Seattle Bowl negatively affected competition within a properly defined relevant market. Thus, the NCAA submits that Aloha Sports could not establish an essential element of its UMOC claim.