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A-Rod's Suspension: Will His Appeal Strike Out in Court?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on January 13, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The long fight over A-Rod's suspension may not be over yet. His lawyers filed suit in federal court Monday to try to get an arbitrator's decision overturned.

Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ruled Saturday that Yankees player Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for the 2014 season for his use of performance enhancing drugs. Horowitz actually reduced Rodriguez's suspension, from 211 games to 162 games.

Challenging an arbitrator's decision, however, can be difficult. What exactly is A-Rod alleging, and will his challenge succeed?

Most of A-Rod's Suspension Upheld

Horowitz upheld most of Major League Baseball's punishment for A-Rod for his part in the Biogenesis doping scandal that affected more than a dozen players, reports USA Today. That includes the entire 2014 regular season and the post-season.

Of the players implicated in the Biogenesis investigation, A-Rod's punishment stands out as particularly harsh -- likely because he refused to cooperate with the MLB and allegedly covered up his involvement. Many other players chose to accept the discipline meted out against them, but A-Rod chose to have his case reviewed by a third-party arbitrator.

Arbitration is a non-adversarial method of resolving legal issues outside of a courtroom. Decisions reached via arbitration are typically final and very difficult to appeal.

Appealing an Arbitration Decision

The reason why arbitration decisions are so difficult to appeal is that the option to go to arbitration -- as opposed to suing in court -- is often a part of the bargain between two parties in a contract. In this case, A-Rod's union agreement through the MLB player's union with the MLB contained an agreement to resolve disputes through arbitration.

These kinds of arbitration clauses in union contracts have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it is very difficult to present a case where the arbitration violated a union member's rights.

Despite the odds, A-Rod's lawsuit claims that Horowitz's ruling displayed "a manifest disregard for the law," reports The New York Times. Rodriguez, 39, hopes that a federal court will halt his suspension, but that outcome seems unlikely.

As employment law expert Andrew Torrez told the Times, a federal court will likely uphold A-Rod's suspension unless "the arbitrator conducted the hearing in a way that was fundamentally unfair."

To the man who was once the highest-paid player in the MLB, "unfair" may be a term understood much differently by the federal judge.

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