For Vilma, time is of the essence in seeking injunction

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Each of the four players suspended in connection with the bounty case need a so-called preliminary injunction in order to delay their suspensions once the regular season begins.  For three of them, a ruling isn’t needed until Week One, since Saints defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita can participate in training camp and the preseason before sitting out games.

For Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, time is of the essence, because his suspension begins right away, blocking him from training camp and the preseason.

And so Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, currently is trying to get a temporary restraining order pending a hearing on the preliminary injunction.

It’s a separate question than whether the players will get their suspensions overturned.  The issue turns on whether the players should be permitted to keep working while the legal process unfolds.

It’s the same analysis that delayed the StarCaps suspensions several years ago.  Though several factors apply, the key question is whether the players will suffer “irreparable harm” if suspended now and vindicated later.  In other words, is there anything the court could do after the fact to put the toothpaste back in the tube?

In StarCaps, the answer was no.  Though the players’ pay can be refunded, there’s no way to allow the players to go back and play in the games they missed.

Given that the review of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s handling of the appeals shouldn’t take much time (as legal cases go), the bigger question becomes whether the injunction would continue on appeal, if the players lose at the district court level.  If so, there’s a good chance none of the suspensions will be served this year, since the appeal process typically takes several months to complete.

Still, with the Hall of Fame game exactly one month away (the Saints play the Cardinals on August 5) and New Orleans training camp coming in just a couple weeks, Vilma needs an injunction sooner rather than later.

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16 responses to “For Vilma, time is of the essence in seeking injunction

  1. I think Vilma wants to win to vindicate himself – just getting access to the evidence (especially under a protective order) is nothing more than a hollow victory. It changes nothing.

    In the last section of the MTD, Goodell’s argument is fascinating to me. He is submitting that he is entitled to relief under a Louisiana procedural device for defendants in cases where free speech is at issue. But more interestingly, he insists that all discovery be stayed pending resolution of the issue under that article.

    It’s just amazing how doggedly the league is refusing to share the evidence. How can Goodell continue to insist that it is the players who have refused to participate in the process when the league is pulling out all stops to keep the players in the dark about the evidence?

    You mentioned this before, but I think this posture by the league really undermines its other positions – mainly that the court should defer to the remedies in the CBA – at least as far as the equities go. What remedies? Goodell’s version of article 46 is a sham. But I still think that’s best put to the arbitrator and I suspect thats where this is all going to end up. At this point, any move to reduced suspensions or pay the suspended players is an admission that the NFL and its investigation was wrong. They fight that with their last breath, because if they do it once, every single play discipline issue will use it as a president to get around the the NFL’s process and take them to court.

    The NFL will only do anything when a court forces them to do so. Also, he doesn’t have ground to request a change of venue but they will have a hell of a time picking a jury. If this case gets tried, it gets tried in New Orleans. So, if anyone gets picked for jury duty your answer is “yes I am a Saints fan but no your honor I would have no problem listening to your instructions and issuing a verdict according to the law as you describe it.” Don’t wear black and gold the first day of jury duty. Save that for the second day of trial.

  2. In otherwords..

    The Saints will keep on wasting their money until the season starts.

  3. I’d love to know why Vilma’s genius attorneys filed for a TRO in federal court (where they’re almost never granted).

  4. This is why it was such a crime that Goodell sat on this for TWO WEEKS, only so that he could make sure that the appeal verdict would be buried one hour before everybody left for a national holiday.

  5. If he could somehow get the suspension delayed for a few seasons(similiar to starcaps) he could just play until he retires. How much does he have left in the tank? Why take away a late career year from him anyway?

  6. Hasn’t Vilma ever heard the adage, “You can’t fight city hall?” Not only that he is allying himself with the ever popular D-Smith who was schooled by Roger the Dodger during the lockout. Give it up, beg for mercy and keep your fat mouth shut and you may catch a break.

    If you don’t you might become radioactive for all 32 of Roger’s accolytes.

  7. For Vilma, time is of the essence in seeking injunction
    i think he knows… thats why he exclaimed whats taking so long with the decision on the appeals

  8. F Vilma, I want him banned for life. He’s harming the entire league more now than his bounty on Favre did.

    Playing in the NFL isn’t his “right”.

  9. If the NFLPA feels they can challenge/ignore the most recent CBA that they all agreed to, then I think the owners should ignore the clause that says they have to pay the players 51% of all revenues. This is about as damning proof as the NFLPA has put up in their defense, but I find it quite interesting that no other players from any of the other 31 teams are stepping up to “agree with the Stains players and organization. The players, Stains and NFLPA want to have their cake and eat it too…….cry me a river.

  10. swampdog – your analysis is right on point. Goodell painted himself into a corner. And, once he loses the MTD, Vilma’s argument that a TRO is warranted only becomes stronger.

  11. It’s sad the way some people are accepting as fact that Vilma is guilty simply because Goodell publicly accused him. Let’s say he is innocent for a moment. What specifically can he provide in his defense? He knows someone had to of lied to Goodell, and his only option is to know who and cross examine his claims. Taking it to court gives him an opportunity to do so. If he was guilty, he knows there’d be many witness to testify against him. Some people here need to drop the lynch mob mentality and allow an innocent man a fair chance to defend himself. Especially Goodell, who seems drunk from his own power.

  12. Today’s filing has nothing to do with whether Vilma is entitled to injunctive relief. The motion only addresses the claims for defamation.

    The suits related to the suspension were just filed. They haven’t even been consolidated with each other or the defamation case.

    The League is the defendant in the suspension suits. The time for it to file a responsive pleading hasn’t yet occurred. Until it does, the court won’t be ruling on any requests for injunctive relief.

  13. Starcaps is a drastically different case. You had many players suspended for using a supplement that was illegally spiked with a banned, protentially harmful, and illegal substance by the manufacurer. This supplement was handed out by NFL teams, which is how some of the players who got started on it were introduced to it. The NFL learned that it contained an illegal substance that wasn’t on the list of ingredients, and instead of telling the players or the NFLPA about it, they just removed it from the approved substances list and didn’t tell anybody about the hazardous contents. Their own hotline for players to use continued to say that it was okay to take. Then, a year later, the NFL handed out a bunch of suspensions to players who they knew were taking it. But the NFL did so selectively, only targeting players on a fee small market teams. The players challenged these suspensions, mainly becauswhether way the NFL handled their knowledge of the harmful substance in Starcaps, was so underhanded that it was borderline criminal.

    In the Saints case, their own coaches have admitted to a pay to injure program. We have audio of ther D coordinator specifically targeting players for ACL and concussion injuries. We have video evidence of the 2009 NFC Championship game where they were clearly targeting Favre and players were getting paid to injure him.

    So in this case these players are trying to avoid suspensions for something they knowingly did, and something that they knew was against the rules, and something that is flat out dispicable. In the Starcaps case, the players were fighting suspensions for something that the league did which was dispicable. There is a big difference between those two cases.

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