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NFL continues effort to shield Goodell from testifying in Super Bowl seating case

Goodell Getty Images

Powerful people don’t like to submit to anyone else’s power.  For most captains of industry, that happens either when they’re called to the board room (where plenty of them already have stacked the deck by getting friends appointed to the governing body) or when they’re summoned to testify in court.

For NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who currently has no reason to fear an audience with his 32 bosses, the only way to really make him squirm is to put him under oath.

It’s not that Goodell or any other high-level executives are wired to tell anything other than the truth (though plenty are).  It’s the principle of having to yield to anyone or anything that folks with power don’t like, and by being compelled to testify a person who has plenty of power necessarily doesn’t possess as much as he or she is accustomed to having.

It’s no surprise, then, that the NFL continues to work to shield Goodell from having to give deposition testimony in the Super Bowl seating debacle.  Though the scope of any inquiry has been narrowed by a federal judge in Texas, Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that the league has asked the court to stay the ruling that Goodell must be deposed by August 5, so that the renewed effort to protect Goodell from testifying can be considered.

“The Order [requiring Goodell to testify] did not consider that the denial of class certification dramatically reduced the amount in controversy in this case,” the league explains in its official court filing.  “This is no longer a putative class case seeking to recover millions of dollars on behalf of thousands of claimants; it is an eight person case with relatively small amounts of alleged damages.”

In English (or close to it), the NFL is saying that the stakes are much lower now, since the judge refused to allow the case to proceed as a class action on behalf of all customers who showed up with tickets to Super Bowl XLV and who were told that they were SOL.  But the number of plaintiffs shouldn’t matter; Goodell should be required to testify once as to all of the potential lawsuits, with the understanding that the testimony could be used in any of the cases brought by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who says he represents “hundreds” of plaintiffs and that the cases are valued at more than $60 million.

None of this will stop the lawyers representing the NFL from trying to shield Goodell from ever having to raise his right hand and repeat the vow to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The simple truth is that, even if persisting in the effort to keep Goodell from testifying eventually pisses off the judge and harms in a roundabout way the league’s substantive interests, Goodell’s marching order to the league’s lawyers will be to do whatever has to be done to protect him from submitting to any authority other than his own.

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11 Responses to “NFL continues effort to shield Goodell from testifying in Super Bowl seating case”
  1. mattwalshvideo says: Jul 22, 2013 4:13 PM

    He should have to testify about Spygate and burning the evidence one day, #abovethelaw

  2. j0esixpack says: Jul 22, 2013 4:20 PM

    Cue Florio Seinfeld reference:

    Goodell knows how to TAKE a reservation… He just doesn’t know how to KEEP a reservation.

    And isn’t that the most important part of the whole reservation process??

  3. mackcarrington says: Jul 22, 2013 5:01 PM

    So Goodell doesn’t want to be in a situation where someone has more power than he does? That sounds like he is a megalomaniac.

  4. smacklayer says: Jul 22, 2013 5:11 PM

    I think you are taking an overly-simplistic and relatively pajoratively side to Goodell’s obligation to testify. Of course he doesn’t want to be deposed in this or any other case. But I don’t this it is first and foremost because he used to being in power and is afraid of not being in power for two hours. People like this did not get to where they are by being scared of attorneys and the legal process.

    Maybe, just maybe, Goodell is a very busy person running one of the biggest “companies” in the country. The season is about to start and training camps starting this week. He has a lot more on his plate than this law suit. So yeah, they are going to try to get him to no have to waste a day of his time being deposed for something that he may really not have much to say about it. NOT because he is shaking in his boots afraid of some ambulance chasing lawyer trying to get rich of the coattails of the NFL.

  5. jrmbadger says: Jul 22, 2013 5:28 PM

    Based on some quick google research, it appears that the cause of action is breach of contract. Breach of contract is a state law claim.

    In Federal Court, you can only pursue causes of action based upon state law claims when there is diversity of citizenship (e.g., the defendant and plaintiff are from different states) and the amount in controversy is > $75K.

    My guess is that the NFL is trying to get a stay of the deposition so that the judge can consider a dismissal based on lack of diversity jurisdiction. The league will probably try and argue that the plaintiffs cannot possibly reach $75k and thus there is no case or controversy and the case would require refiling in state court (in which case the lawsuit may be barred by the statute of limitations).

    Granted, it’s been awhile since CivPro and I haven’t looked on Lexis for the most recent caselaw, so this is just a shot in the dark.

  6. aintasinner says: Jul 22, 2013 5:41 PM

    And while he is being questioned about Spygate, let’s ask him about Bountygate and the 50,000 pages of evidence he had against the Saints that never materialized.

  7. iced107 says: Jul 22, 2013 5:50 PM

    so people paid for a service by the nfl but they failed to render their services on the end? And the people who sell the services turn a blind eye, say too bad, and can get away with this?

    And people wonder what is wrong with this country

  8. yojoemama says: Jul 22, 2013 5:55 PM

    The only thing I want to know is… how does one get the job of NFL commissioner?

  9. usmutts says: Jul 22, 2013 8:13 PM

    Taking an oath and giving sworn testimony in a matter in which you have pertinent information is an obligation of every American citizen. Nobody is too important or too busy to perform the duties of citizenship.

    Attempting to avoid giving sworn testimony is un-American and un-patriotic. Which pretty much describes Roger Goodell.

  10. superdave4good says: Jul 22, 2013 9:06 PM

    It is hard to believe compensation for the fans, whom spent good money to attend what quite possibly was a once in a lifetime event/opportunity & not actually be able to do so, is possibly only going to be for the ticket price & travel expenses. This is wrong. I’m not sure how to quantify the value but it’s obviously more valuable to some than others w personal circumstances dictating the level of disappoint variable. Surely the purchase of the tickets constituted a binding agreement leading to breach of agreement. How is PFT or anyone going to say it’s wrong to ONLY compensate Flying J customers the value of the rebates plus interest ONLY then act as if the current rulings in this case are acceptable? More money is involved w Flying J’s scam but how are the two cases so different? So ridiculous. The NFL is getting too big & GOODELL SHOULD HAVE TO GET ON THE STAND. SO WRONG!!!

  11. frankdatank23 says: Jul 22, 2013 9:40 PM

    Do the right thing, just let him testify…and find a new commissioner.

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