North Carolina court issues ruling in favor of ACC in Clemson lawsuit


As the ACC and Florida State deal with its ongoing legal battle over the conference’s Grant of Rights, Clemson is also waging a war on a separate front in the courts.

A North Carolina judge ruled Wednesday on Clemson’s motions to stay and dismiss a suit filed by the ACC in Charlotte in March, allowing the case to remain in North Carolina Business Court. The Tigers filed their suit against the ACC first, just to have the league file its own the next day.

It’s a very similar situation to what is playing out in courts in North Carolina and Florida between the ACC and Florida State. North Carolina Judge Louis A. Bledsoe dismissed multiple ACC claims that Clemson breached its duties regarding league contracts.

The Tigers filed a lawsuit in March against the ACC, followed by the league suing Clemson the next day in Charlotte. Bledsoe’s ruling comes days before the ACC and Clemson meet for a similar hearing in South Carolina. The ACC has filed the same motions as Clemson in the suit in Pickens County.

“Only a North Carolina court, most likely in a single consolidated action in North Carolina, can render consistent, uniform determinations binding the ACC, FSU, and Clemson concerning the documents that are at issue in all four Pending Actions,” Bledsoe said in his 53-page decision. “… Other factors also weigh in favor of denying Clemson’s requested stay. As it did in the FSU Order, the Court concludes that the nature of the case and the applicable law strongly favor allowing this matter to proceed in North Carolina.

“Like the FSU Action, the key contracts in this case – the Grant of Rights and the Amended Grant of Rights– were made in North Carolina and are governed by North Carolina law.”

Bledsoe also determined Clemson’s actions in North Carolina are commercial, meaning the Tigers made hundreds of millions through the ACC’s grant of rights. Clemson will be able to appeal the ruling.

“We are pleased with today’s ruling as it confirms that only a North Carolina court can render a decision that would apply to both Clemson and Florida State,” the ACC wrote in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. “The opinion also reinforces what the ACC has clearly articulated from day one – the North Carolina courts are the proper place to enforce and interpret the ACC’s agreements.

“As the court found, Clemson does not challenge whether the ACC Grant of Rights is valid or enforceable. This recognizes the ACC’s consistent position that the 2013 and 2016 Grant of Rights are valid and enforceable agreements that each of our members entered into voluntarily, with full knowledge of their terms.”

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