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U.S. Supreme Court rules NFL must pay legal fees for USFL

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to free the NFL from having to pay more than $5.5-million in legal fees to the defunct United States Football League. The court, without comment, let stand a ruling that the NFL must reimburse the USFL for attorney fees the failed league incurred in winning only $3 in a much-publicized antitrust suit.

The USFL filed a $1.7-billion suit in 1984, accusing the NFL of federal antitrust violations in its treatment of player contracts, television coverage, stadium availability and other matters.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last October upheld the award of $5.53-million in lawyer fees to the USFL, which had sought more than $7.6-million to pay its attorneys.

The appeals court said, "The jury found that the NFL's monopolization of the United States major-league professional football market injured the USFL. An injury having been found, the awarding of attorney's fees to the USFL was compulsory. The award of only nominal damages to the USFL does not affect its right to attorney's fees."

Joe Robbie Stadium suit is allowed to proceed

WASHINGTON _ Attorneys for both the Miami Dolphins and a group of black homeowners claimed victory after the Supreme Court refused to kill a $100-million lawsuit against Dade County and developers of Joe Robbie Stadium.

The justices, without comment, let stand a ruling that three black residents of the stadium neighborhood may pursue in federal court their constitutional attack against the county and developers.

The 11th U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta had sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Eugene P. Spellman of Miami, who had thrown it out.

"This is a great victory for the homeowners against the developers in Dade County who have made life miserable for the middle-class backs who live near the stadium," said attorney H.T. Smith. "For the first time in six years, we'll have a chance to present our evidence."

But the high court also refused to hear a separate appeal, filed by Smith on behalf of the three black residents and three civic groups, that sought to block further commercial construction in the area surrounding the stadium.

"We no longer have to worry about some judge some day saying the stadium was illegally zoned and will have to be torn down," said Robert Shevin, who represents the Robbie Stadium Corp.

That portion of the suit revived by the appeals court alleges that the homeowners should be compensated for the zoning changes made to accommodate construction of the stadium complex.

The suit says the zoning changes represented both a "taking" of private property without just compensation and "a stark pattern of discriminatory practices affecting the property and housing rights of black citizens."

McMichael to Bears: Pay me more or trade me

CHICAGO _ Bears defensive tackle Steve McMichael contends he's not getting paid what he's worth and says he wants to be traded, preferably to Dallas, if the Bears don't offer him more.

"We will not renegotiate his contract again," Bears negotiator Ted Phillips said Monday.

"He said that last time and he did renegotiate," countered Larry Bales, McMichael's agent.

Last year the Bears gave McMichael a one-year extension worth $650,000 and added incentive clauses for the 1989 and 1990 seasons, but refused to better his 1989 and 1990 base salaries of $500,000 per year.

McMichael, who has twice been selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team, earns less money than seven of his teammates on defense.

Around the league

49ers: Joe Montana didn't attend the Maxwell Football Club's banquet in Philadelphia, the first time in the 30-year history of the club's Bert Bell Award for the NFL player of the year that the winner didn't accept the trophy in person. Club president Francis "Reds" Bagnell said he understood Montana was in the Virgin Islands.

Cardinals: Head coach Joe Bugel promoted Joe Pascale from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator, hired former Eagles assistant head coach Ted Plumb to coach receivers, and also hired two other assistants _ Bob Rogucki (strength and conditioning) and Mike Murphy (defensive assistant and quality control).