NFL Players Association v. NFL re: Suspensions for a Banned Substance
The United States District Court, District of Minnesota (Magnuson, J.) ruled on cross-motions for summary judgment, arising in a lawsuit that followed an arbitration wherein the NFL prevailed over the claims of several suspended NFL players (Vikings and Saints).
The Players Association raised several points in objecting to the arbitration award that went against them. First, they suggested that the initial referral of the matter for discipline had been improperly influenced by an NFL official. The Court pointed out that this is irrelevant to the propriety of the arbitration itself. Second, the Players Association took the position that the arbitrator was biased. The Court pointed out that the Players Association had agreed to his appointment and further found that the arbitrator “was not a partial arbitrator.” Third, the Players Association argued that the NFL breached fiduciary duties owed to the players and, therefore, the arbitration had to be set aside as contrary to public policy. The Court rejected this claim as well.
That only left some claims under Minnesota law, which the U.S. District Court remanded to state court, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.
Finally, for practictioners, it may be worthy to note that the NFL counsel, Akin Gump (D.C.) and lawyers from the Halleland Lewis firm were expressly called out for “unnecessary and expensive” “obstructive litigation tactics” “contrary to the explicit dictates of the Court.” One wonders about the deterrent affect of such reprimands when accompanied by a near complete victory for the criticized legal team…