While the Yankees no longer hold an affiliation with Staten Island, they haven’t fully extracted themselves from their business in the outer borough.
New York State Supreme Court judge Barry Ostrager on Thursday dismissed seven of the eight causes of action in a $20 million-plus lawsuit filed against the Yankees and Major League Baseball last December by Nostalgic Partners, the consortium that owned the Staten Island Yankees from 2011 until the team’s dissolution last winter. The one cause of action that stood, which moves the case to trial, concerns Nostalgic’s contention that the Yankees breached a contract with the group.
Last offseason, MLB dramatically downsized and reorganized its minor league setup, leaving Staten Island among many other affiliates in the lurch. Yet Ostrager saw merit in the uniqueness of a written agreement between Nostalgic and the Yankees stating that the two sides would stay in business together as long as the Yankees owned 5 percent of their Staten Island affiliate, which they did at the time of the downsizing.
Wrote Ostrager: “MLB’s decision to restructure its relationship with (Minor League Baseball) and to change the name of MLB’s minor league affiliation agreement from a ‘Professional Development Contract’ to ‘Professional Development License’ is a ‘distinction without a difference’ because it ignores the intent of the parties to maintain a relationship going forward.”
Jonathan Schiller, attorney for the Steinbrenner Trusts and Yankees, said in a statement, “This is a great victory for the Steinbrenner Trusts and for the Yankees. The court dismissed 7 out of 8 claims including all of the claims against the Trusts. The Yankees will appeal the one remaining claim and are confident they will prevail on appeal.”
“They lost big-time on the only claims that matter,” Glenn Reicin, a partner in Nostalgic, countered. “We are extremely pleased with the results.”
The judge ordered the two sides to appear remotely in a preliminary conference on Oct. 7 for the next step.
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