NFL Players Association Files Lawsuit Against NFL On Behalf Of Suspended Players; Vilma Amends Lawsuit Against League
The New Orleans Saints Bounty scandal takes another turn as the NFL Players Association has fired back at the NFL after Commissioner Roger Goodell denied the appeals of the suspended players on Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in New Orleans against Goodell and the NFL. Sports law expert Doug Sunseri says the suit claims Goodell violated the collective bargaining agreement by showing publicly he had determined Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita had participated in a bounty system even before serving as an arbitrator at their hearing.
What he (Goodell) is supposed to do is be unbiased, impartial in (his) determination of facts. They (the suspended players) are basically saying that he (Goodell) has prejudged them as being guilty of these violations; therefore, he's not a fair and impartial person to determine this issue.
The NFLPA is seeking for a judge to throw out earlier arbitration rulings and order a new arbitrator to preside over the matter. Sunseri believes the NFL will come back and accuse the players of not being an active part of the appeals process. He doesn't believe this lawsuit is going to prevail because the collective bargaining agreement does give Goodell the power to punish. Sunseri thinks the NFLPA will continue to sue the NFL in order to cut a deal, possibly modifying the suspensions.
Meanwhile, the fourth player, Jonathan Vilma, has sued the NFL and Goodell separately. Vilma has amended his lawsuit against Goodell and the league, asking a federal judge in New Orleans to overturn his suspension and issue a preliminary injunction that would allow Vilma to work while the case is pending. Vilma has said his suspension is without merit and Goodell has made false public comments that have damaged Vilma's reputation and hurt his ability to make a living.
Goodell's motion says Vilma's claims are barred by dispute resolution procedures outlined by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. Vilma wants an immediate injunction so he can continue rehabilitating a knee injury at Saints headquarters.
Vilma received the toughest punishment, getting suspended without pay for the entire 2012 NFL season. Smith is facing a 4-game suspension. Hargrove, who’s now with the Green Bay Packers, was suspended for eight games while Fujita, who’s now with the Cleveland Browns, was suspended for three games.