As we noted last week, attorneys representing Tom Hicks in the U.K. were in court trying to get a judge there to overturn his ruling that keeps Hicks from suing in the U.S. over last October's sale of Liverpool FC to New England Sports Ventures. Hicks and his Dallas legal team, of course, temporarily stopped the sale by rushing to the George Allen and branded the October sale "an epic swindle" and have threatened ever since to sue for some $1.6 billion in damages in a Dallas courtroom. But they could only do so if the judge tore down his earlier roadblock.
This morning, the judge handed down his decision: If Hicks wants to sue, says Mr. Justice Floyd, he and George Gillett, with whom Hicks owned the soccer club, will have to do so in England. Wrote Floyd, "I am satisfied that the former owners have not shown any good reason why the injunction should be discharged." The judge, however, did make one slight alteration to his original order: As The Telegraph notes, Hicks can now "sue for disclosure of documents and information relating to the sale of the club in the US, but only if he gives the defendants and UK courts seven-days notice of any writ. The judge also gave [former Liverpool chairman Martin] Broughton and NESV permission to seek permanent protection against any damages claim from Hicks, technically known as 'negative declaratory relief.'"
Liverpool FC's present owners, of course, are delighted by the ruling and say in a statement issued today they "will continue to take all steps necessary to defend vigorously any litigation threatened or commenced by the Club's former owners." Hicks' local PR reps say he has no comment on the subject, and messages have been left with Tom Melsheimer at Fish & Richardson to see what he plans to do next
Update at 9:47 a.m: Melsheimer responds, via e-mail:
We are studying the ruling and looking at our options. Note that the ruling was, as expected, wholly procedural and not a decision on the merits of any claim. I can't say much more than that at this point.
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