MLB agrees to pay $185 million to minor league players to settle salary lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has agreed to pay the minor leagues $185 million to settle a federal lawsuit that has dragged on in court for eight years without going to trial.

The settlement, announced May 10, was filed Friday in US District Court in San Francisco, where Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero is expected to grant approval.

If approved, $120,197,300 will be split among the players, $55.5 million will go to the players’ attorneys, up to $5.5 million will be for lawsuit reimbursement costs, $450,000 will be for settlement administration costs, $637,000 will go to incentive awards for the players’ representatives in the lawsuit, $400,000 for a contingency fund and $2,315,000 for a payment under the California Private Attorney General Act.

As part of the deal, MLB agreed to rescind any ban on teams paying minor league players salaries in the off-season.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by first baseman/outfielder Aaron Senne, a 2009 Marlins 10th-round pick who retired in 2013, and two other retired players who had been lower-round picks: Marlins infielder Kansas City Royals Michael Liberto and St. Francis Giants pitcher Oliver Odle. They claimed violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state minimum wage and overtime requirements for a workweek they estimated to be 50 to 60 hours.

Spero wrote in a pretrial ruling in March that minor leaguers are year-round employees who work during training time and found that MLB violated Arizona’s state minimum wage law and was liable for treble damages. Spero also ruled that MLB failed to comply with California’s wage reporting requirements, awarding $1,882,650 in penalties.

He said minor league players should be paid for travel time to road games in the California League and to practice in Arizona and Florida.

In 2017, the players who sued were defined as those with minor league contracts who played in the California League for at least seven days in a row on or after February 7, 2010, or February 7, 2011, depending on state claims or federal; those who participated in spring training, extended spring training instructional leagues in Arizona beginning February 7, 2011; and those who participated in spring training, extended spring training instructional leagues in Florida beginning February 7, 2009.

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