Judge’s ruling favors PRCA over ERA, shakes up Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo

Ruling forces some cowboys out of the Fort Worth rodeo

Judge says PRCA bylaws will immediately be enforced

ERA filed antitrust lawsuit against PRCA in November


Special to the Star-Telegram

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn has ruled in favor of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, allowing the PRCA to enforce bylaws that will keep its members from owning shares in the new Elite Rodeo Athletes organization.

The ERA had filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the PRCA and alleging that recent bylaws were anticompetitive. 

In October, the PRCA enacted bylaws denying anyone with an ownership share in the new rodeo enterprise from purchasing a PRCA membership this year and performing in PRCA events, including the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo. 

That includes 13-time world all-around champion and roping star Trevor Brazile of Decatur and four-time world bareback riding champion Bobby Mote of Stephenville.

“The ERA will continue to present the best collection of professional rodeo athletes during its inaugural 2016 season – starting with the first ERA rodeo next month in Redmond Oregon,” said Tony Garritano, CEO and president of the ERA.

The lawsuit brought by ERA, which was heard in a Dallas courtroom on Dec. 29, sought a court order to temporarily and permanently stop PRCA from enforcing the new bylaws.

Lynn ruled, “Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing that they will suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction, nor that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.”

The PRCA bylaws at issue will be immediately enforced and could alter the rodeo landscape the rest of the year. Many of the ERA’s top cowboys were competing in the Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo, which concludes its 16-day run Saturday.

An array of high-profile pro rodeo athletes associated with the ERA were drawn out of the Fort Worth rodeo on Friday. Lynn had ruled they could compete in PRCA rodeos in January and early February while she was studying the lawsuit.

As a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the PRCA, Brazile was one of those drawn out. Had the ERA won the case, Brazile would have pocketed $1,715 for tying for sixth place in the first round of tie-down roping with a time of 8.5 seconds. 

Brazile is expected to receive his entry fee money back from the Fort Worth rodeo, but not the prize money. That outcome applies to any of the previous rodeos affected by the ruling this season.

Bareback rider Richmond Champion, a former Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, was another ERA member who was drawn out of the Fort Worth Rodeo. Champion had taken the lead in the bareback riding title race. But fans will not see Champion compete in the final round Saturday night.

The $4.6 million ERA tour has scheduled stops in eight cities, including a Nov. 9-13 championship show at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The ERA is advertising ticket sales for the 2016 tour stops on the association’s website.

The women barrel racers are not subject to the ruling because they are in a separate association and were not part of the lawsuit.

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