Moran v. Selig, 447 F.3d 748 (9th Cir. 2006)

Seeking to make partial amends for its exclusion of African-American baseball players prior to 1947 (when Jackie Robinson “broke the color barrier”), MLB voluntarily decided to provide certain benefits, including medical coverage and a supplemental income plan, to qualifying African-Americans players who had been in the “Negro Leagues” prior to 1948. In this lawsuit, certain retired players (mostly Caucasians) who played in the Major Leagues between 1947 and 1979 for too short a period to vest in similar benefits challenged MLB’s action on the ground that it discriminated against them on the basis of their race. The trial court granted MLB’s motion for summary judgment, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the benefits are not “part and parcel of the employment relationship” because members of the Negro Leagues were (by definition) not members of MLB. Moreover, since none of the plaintiffs had been excluded from MLB because of his race, none was similarly situated to those who were. The Court further held that MLB had a legitimate non-discriminatory and non-pretextual reason for providing these benefits and that it had acted “honorably and decently and not out of an improper or invidious motive.” Finally, the Court affirmed summary judgment of plaintiffs’ battery claim involving alleged multiple injections of cortisone and other drugs without their informed consent as a result of the absence of sufficient evidence in support thereof.