Appeals court ruling gives NFLPA chance to prove collusion

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On Friday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued a surprising ruling in a two-year-old collusion claim filed by the NFLPA.  The management-friendly appellate court unexpectedly reversed a decision from player-friendly Judge David Doty, allowing the case to proceed.

The 18-page opinion explains that, while Judge Doty properly concluded that the 2011 settlement of all claims did not require the formal dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s that occurs when a class action is resolved, Judge Doty should have given the NFLPA an opportunity to prove that the 2011 settlement was tainted by “fraud . . ., misrepresentation, or misconduct.”

The NFLPA will now get that opportunity.

“”Our union will always pursue and protect the rights of its players,” the NFLPA said in a statement.  “We are pleased that the Eighth Circuit ruled that players have the opportunity to proceed with their claims.  Through discovery and a hearing, we can understand how collusion took place.  We have notified the NFL of its obligations to preserve all relevant documents and communications.””

Even if the NFLPA proves that collusion occurred in the uncapped year of 2010 (and the cap penalties imposed in 2012 on Dallas and Washington suggest that it did), the settlement will not be set aside lightly.

“[T]he [NFLPA] bears a heavy burden in attempting to convince the district court that the Dismissal was fraudulently procured,” the appeals court explained.  “We hold only that the [NFLPA] should be given the opportunity to meet this burden,” which is satisfied “in only the most exceptional of cases.”

In this case, the NFL will argue that the NFLPA should have promptly made the collusion claim when the NFL requested that cap penalties be imposed on Dallas and Washington, since at a minimum the issue of cap penalties placed the NFLPA on what the law calls “inquiry notice” regarding whether the league was trying to punish those teams for refusing to engage in past collusion.  That’s essentially what happened, but because the union desperately needed the salary cap to go up not down in 2012, the NFLPA was poised to agree to anything the NFL wanted in exchange for a willingness to borrow against future cap years to get the cap to move higher in the first league year after the new CBA was finalized.

The league’s challenge will be to get the case kicked out of court again by Judge Doty before being forced to share information and documents about the collusion that apparently (or actually) occurred in 2010.  The best — and most likely — argument will be that, even if the allegation is true, that’s not enough to justify a finding of fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct in the final settlement of the 1992 antitrust lawsuit filed by the late Reggie White and others.

14 responses to “Appeals court ruling gives NFLPA chance to prove collusion

  1. The beautiful thing of being a REDSKINS fan is that we win on and off the field. Name won’t change, but our trophy case will when we make it bigger for the incoming Superbowls that RGIII, Morris, Jackson, Garcon and Co. will cook up in the next 10 years. #HTTREDSKINS

  2. @logicalvoice RG3 is going to be the only one still on the team in 10 years but I’m hoping for some brass in the coming years #HTTR

  3. Snyder is running the name into the ground on purpose so that he can move the team to LA (in the mid 2020’s) and change the name and sell the team for billions of dollars.

    You won’t win any superbowls. Hail to the Reality.

  4. The Cowboys and the Expleted Deleteds were fined for spending too much money on players in an uncapped year. If that isn’t collusion, then what is collusion? The fines prove collusion.

  5. agold – haha Bob will done within 5-7 years, if that. He’s Manziel, before Manziel. Short, and slight. At least Brees is short but stocky. Griffin is porcelain, and was that way in college. If you hit him, he crumbles.

  6. This is one of those situations that the NFLPA should tread lightly. If these recent large cap bumps came as a wink wink nod nod in association with the collusion, then the union may regret going after this too hard.

  7. How could it not be collusion? The Redskins and Cowboys had cap space taken away by other owners for violating a cap that didn’t exist. That shows the owners made an agreement to limit the free market competition to sign players, which could have made salaries rise. In addition, what DC and Dallas really did was to move money into the uncapped year, which quite frankly is common sense. An memo from Goodell and his handlers does not carry the weight of labor laws or the binding rules of a bargaining agreement, so there should have been no obligation to follow it in the first place.

  8. So, this is gonna seem kinda lazy but I don’t care. =if Zimmer does well I’ll be thrilled. I am a die hard Bengals fan and seeing him get passed over that often was silly.
    And Poet sucks

  9. logicalvoicesays says:
    Jun 20, 2014 4:57 PM
    The beautiful thing of being a REDSKINS fan is that we win on and off the field. Name won’t change, but our trophy case will when we make it bigger for the incoming Superbowls that RGIII, Morris, Jackson, Garcon and Co. will cook up in the next 10 years. #HTTREDSKINS

    19 19

    I think you misread the thread title. It says collusion, not delusion.

  10. john mara doesn’t want you to call it collusion instead call it “the violation of the spirit of the salary cap”.

  11. Although the other owners should probably be forced to give back the cap space they gained when the Cowboys and Redskins were docked, the real issue is the players. They were the victims of the collusion. There should be fact finding with treble damages for the injured parties. It would probably only apply to players who were free agents in the uncapped year, not other players who got new deals off someone else’s contract. And some players such as Julius Peppers cashed in during the uncapped year.

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