Lawyer Peter Ginsberg has issued a statement in response to Thursday’s ruling in the StarCaps case. Though his clients, Vikings defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams, proved that the NFL is their employer for the purposes of the drug-testing programs and that the league violated Minnesota law in connection with the tests that triggered four-game suspensions, Judge Gary Larson found that the suspensions ultimately should not be blocked.
Here is the full text of Ginsberg’s statement:
“Kevin and Pat have shown an enormous amount of courage standing up to the NFL machine throughout this litigation. The NFL not only failed to abide by its obligations to administer the Steroid Policy fairly and equally, but chose to ignore its ethical obligation when it discovered that Players were taking an over-the-counter food supplement – StarCaps – that contained a potentially lethal and undisclosed controlled substance. And all the while, the NFL was holding to the position — as it has throughout this litigation – that State Law did not apply to the NFL. And that it could thus ignore the rights and protections that the Minnesota Legislature decided was needed for all employees.
“This litigation hopefully will make the Steroid Policy better, not weaker, as the NFL has contended, and will force the NFL to be more responsible and responsive to its obligations.
“The results are decidedly mixed. All NFL Players and the State of Minnesota have gained an important victory. No employer can stand above the Law, including the NFL. We are obviously disappointed that, despite violating Kevin and Pat’s rights, the NFL still is threatening to suspend them. Kevin and Pat should be admired for the battle that they waged, not only for all NFL Players but for all employees throughout the State of Minnesota.”
We’ve yet to study the full opinion, but we will be doing so very soon. Ginsberg contends that Judge Larson found that the NFL is an “employer” of the Williamses (a ruling that could hurt the league in other contexts), that the NFL must comply with Minnesota law when conducting drug testing, that the league violated the relevant statute in this case, but that the players were not injured by the violation. Ginsberg confirmed that he will attempt this afternoon to preserve the temporary injunction pending appeal, and we’ll be breaking down all of the issues and potential consequences later today for SportingNews.com.
Though Kevin and Pat Williams are now in line to miss the first four games of the 2010 season, Ginsberg believes that the NFL lost on the issues that the league regards as most important to its interests — the joint employer concept and the supposedly bulletproof nature of the drug policies with respect to federal law. We believe there’s a chance that the matter could be resolved in a way that unrings that bell in exchange for an agreement not to suspend the players, but it’s likely a long shot at this point that the two sides will agree on anything.