A lawsuit that could have created major P.R. issues and potentially significant liability for the NFL’s teams has been largely resolved, with the league winning.
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal reports that Judge William Alsup dismissed most of the legal claims made against the league’s 32 teams for allegedly dispensing painkillers to players. The judge allowed nine specific players to pursue certain charged, but the bulk of the case has been rejected. The plaintiffs will have the right to appeal the decision.
Judge Alsup wrote in the order rejecting the claims that the case was “replete with extensive and incendiary allegations of conspiracy and general illegality (e.g., that the NFL’s handling and distribution of medication violated the Controlled Substances Act and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).” He explained that what’s relevant isn’t “whether plaintiffs have drawn attention to widespread misconduct in the NFL but whether each plaintiff has properly pled claims for relief against each individual club.”
In other words, it’s one thing for the NFL and its teams to have engaged in improper behavior, and it’s another for those things to give rise to a violation of the law for which the plaintiffs have a right to compensation.
Documents from the case emerged in March, but because they were disclosed on the first day of free agency, the materials were largely overlooked.
The lawsuit against the team emerged after Judge Alsup concluded in 2014 that any claims against the NFL itself are preempted by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the union.