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Aloha Sports Inc. v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

October 30, 2013

ALOHA SPORTS INC., a Hawaii corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
THE NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, Defendant-Appellee

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAII REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (CIVIL NO. 06-1-1832)

On the briefs:

Frederick W. Rohlfing, III for Plaintiff-Appellant.

William C. McCorriston Kenneth J. Mansfield Jordon J. Kimura (McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon) for Defendant-Appellee.

Foley, Presiding J., Leonard and Reifurth, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff-Appellant Aloha Sports, Inc. (Aloha) appeals from the (1) "Order Granting In Part And Denying In Part The National Athletic Association's Motion To Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint With Prejudice" entered February 26, 2 008;[1] (2) "Final Judgment" entered January 12, 2 012; (3) "Order Denying Plaintiff Aloha Sports Inc.'s Motion to Vacate Final Judgment and for New Trial, Filed January 23, 2 012" entered May 8, 2012; and (4) June 19, 2012 "Order Granting In Part And Denying In Part The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Motion For Fees And Costs Filed January 13, 2012" all entered in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit[2] (circuit court).

The circuit court entered judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and against Aloha consistent with the jury verdict finding for the NCAA and interlocutory orders granted throughout the proceedings.

On appeal Aloha contends the circuit court erred when it:

(1) dismissed part of Aloha's claim brought under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 480-2 (1993) (unfair competition claim) on the grounds that it was barred by res judicata;
(2) dismissed part of Aloha's unfair competition claim after finding Aloha lacked standing; (3) dismissed part of Aloha's unfair competition claim after finding it lacked a factual basis; (4) admitted testimony from a NCAA witness despite objection for impermissible conclusion;
(5) denied Aloha's motion for new trial under Hawai'i Rules of Civil Procedure (HRCP) Rule 60(b) and HRCP Rule 59, concluding that the newly submitted evidence would only serve to impeach or contradict a witness; and
(6) awarded an excessive amount of attorneys' fees and lacked jurisdiction to enter such award.

I. BACKGROUND

Aloha is a Hawai'i corporation and former bowl-sponsoring agency that produced NCAA Division 1-A post-season football bowl games. The NCAA is an unincorporated voluntary association of approximately 1, 200 colleges, universities, athletic conferences, and sports organizations that runs all business aspects of college sports, including certification of post-season football bowl games.

All NCAA affiliated post-season football bowl games must be certified by the NCAA. To become certified, the bowl-sponsoring agency must meet requirements set forth in the "NCAA Postseason Football Handbook" (Handbook) released annually by the NCAA. Before 2003, the Handbook required bowl-sponsoring agencies, as a condition for certification, to agree to pay the greater of 75% of gross receipts or $750, 000 to teams competing in the bowl game (Minimum Payout).

Aloha owned and operated the Aloha Bowl as an NCAA-certified post-season football bowl game from 1982 to 2002. Aloha established the Oahu Bowl in 1998 as a double-header package with the Aloha Bowl. To generate more revenue. Aloha moved the Aloha Bowl to San Francisco, changed the name to the San Francisco Bowl and scheduled the game for December 30, 2001. Aloha also moved the Oahu Bowl to Seattle, changed the name to the Seattle Bowl, and scheduled that game for January 2, 2002.

The NCAA withdrew certification of the Aloha Bowl/San Francisco Bowl before the December 30, 2001 scheduled game. Aloha produced the Oahu Bowl/Seattle Bowl for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Aloha entered into an agreement to transfer control of Aloha to Pro Sports Entertainment, Inc. (Pro Sports) that was terminated after the NCAA denied the Seattle Bowl's 2003 certification, citing substandard game conditions and failure to meet Handbook requirements, including the Minimum Payout obligation.

On March 25, 2004, Aloha filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii[3] (federal court). The parties engaged in extensive discovery. On June 1, 2004, Aloha filed the "First Amended Complaint for Treble Damages for Violations of: (1) Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 15; (2) Hawaii Unfair Trade Practices Law; (3) Breach of Contract; and (4) Intentional Interference With Contract and/or Prospective Economic Advantage" (Federal Complaint) in federal court.

On June 9., 2006, Aloha filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the federal antitrust claim with prejudice and dismiss the Hawai'i state law claim without prejudice. On July 5, 2006, the federal court entered the "Order Provisionally Granting [Aloha's] Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Its First Cause of Action With Prejudice and Its Remaining Causes of Action Without Prejudice" (July Order), and on September 22, 2006 entered the "Order Dismissing [Aloha's] First Cause of Action (Violation of Sherman Act Section 1) With Prejudice and Its Remaining Causes of Action Without Prejudice."

Aloha filed its complaint in the circuit court on October 20, 2006; its. "First Amended Complaint" on November 28, 2006; and its "Second Amended Complaint" on June 12, 2007. Aloha's Second Amended Complaint brought claims against the NCAA for: (1) unfair competition; (2) "Interference With Prospective Economic Advantage"; (3) "Breach of Contract - Seattle Bowl" and, (4) "Breach of Contract - Aloha Bowl."

On August 15, 2007, the NCAA filed a motion to dismiss Aloha's Second Amended Complaint With Prejudice. In the "Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part the [NCAA's] Motion to Dismiss [Aloha's] Second Amended Complaint with Prejudice" entered February 26, 2008, the circuit court took judicial notice of the Federal Complaint and the July Order.

On May 27, 2011, Aloha filed its "Third Amended Complaint", dropping the claim against the NCAA for breach of contract regarding the Aloha Bowl. At the hearing held September 8, 2011, Aloha voluntarily dismissed with prejudice its remaining claims against the NCAA for unfair competition and for breach of contract regarding the Seattle Bowl. The only remaining unresolved claim was for interference with prospective economic advantage. On September 19, 2011 a jury returned a unanimous verdict, finding Aloha did not prove its claim by a preponderance of evidence.

On January 12, 2012, the circuit court entered a "Final Judgment" in favor of the NCAA. On January 23, 2012, Aloha filed a motion to vacate the final judgment and for a new trial. On January 31, 2012, the NCAA filed a motion for attorneys' fees and costs. On May 8, 2012, the circuit court entered an order denying Aloha's motion to vacate final judgment. On May 23, 2012, Aloha filed its notice of appeal. On June 19, 2012, the circuit court entered ...


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