The StarCaps trial started slowly, moved slowly, and ended abruptly.
As explained by Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the StarCaps trial is over, after a week that featured testimony from 12 witnesses and an hour of closing arguments.
Though the procedural aspects of the trial have at times been confusing, it now appears that the five-day trial was conducted before Judge Gary Larson only, without a jury present. Confirming this reality is the fact that Judge Larson has asked for written briefs to be submitted
by the parties by April 2, and Judge Larson has promised a decision within 45
When we last spoke to plaintiffs’ lawyer Peter Ginsberg in late February regarding the situation, he explained that the court and the parties were in the process of determining the issues that would be resolved by the judge and the issues that would be resolved by a jury — which suggests that, as of three weeks ago, a jury trial was still being contemplated, at least as to some issues.
Our best guess at this point (and we’re in the process of tracking down further information) is that Judge Larson ultimately decided to conduct a bench trial on issues such as the question of whether the NFL is a joint employer of the Vikings’ players, which would make the league directly responsible for any violations of Minnesota statutory drug-testing laws, and the question of whether the league breached confidentiality provisions of the Minnesota statutes by leaking information regarding the positive tests to the media.
Then, under our half-informed speculation, a jury trial would be conducted as to the question of damages, if any, to be awarded and possibly as to any issues about which Judge Larson concludes that a “genuine issue of material fact” exists — legalese for “a pissing match.”
But the biggest question in the case apparently will be resolved by the middle of May: whether Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams will be suspended four games for testing positive for the banned diuretic that had been secretly placed into StarCaps. In our view, two key facts could drive this decision in favor of the players. First, others who tested positive for Bumetanide after taking StarCaps were not suspended. Second, the league learned that StarCaps contained Bumetanide — a potent drug with potentially serious side effects — but did nothing to warn the players, the FDA, or anyone else of this discovery.
So while there might be a trial at some point in the future aimed at determining whether and to what extent money will change hands, the key decision will be issued at or around Mother’s Day, and the ruling likely will prompt one of the two sides to utter an expletive containing the word “muther,” with or without a hyphen.