NFL’s defense of Jon Gruden’s lawsuit likely will start with a fight over the proper forum

Baltimore Ravens v Las Vegas Raiders
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The NFL has vowed to vigorously defend itself against the claims made by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Look or that defense to begin with the NFL attempting to get the case into the most favorable forum possible.

The league undoubtedly will remove the case from state court to federal court, arguing that none of the defendants sued by Gruden are residents of Nevada. Yes, Gruden’s lawsuit contends that the NFL is a “resident” of Nevada because one of its member clubs plays there, and because “it does business here and derives substantial revenue from its contacts with Nevada.” The NFL likely will say that doesn’t matter, that the NFL itself isn’t a resident of Nevada and that no Nevada-based party has been named as a defendant.

Federal law authorizes the removal of litigation from state court to federal court when an in-state defendant sues out-of-state parties in recognition of the reality that a state-based court will have a bias toward state-based plaintiffs suing out-of-state interests. Because the question of whether a case is litigated in state or federal court can in many situations determine the outcome of a case, it makes sense for the NFL to exercise its right to take the case to federal court. Gruden would then be required to initiate a fight aimed at getting the case returned to state court.

Regardless of whether the case proceeds in state or federal court, look for the NFL to find a way to argue that Gruden has an obligation, under either his contract or general NFL policies, to pursue any grievances through an internal arbitration process. Gruden’s lawyers will fight that claim, and the outcome will resolve whether a jury decides the case, or whether a single person — an arbitrator — resolves it.

Whenever the dust settles on where and how the case will be handled, the NFL could try to argue that the settlement agreement that reportedly resolved Gruden’s contract with the Raiders prevents a lawsuit against the NFL. That argument will be driven by the precise language of the waiver in the settlement agreement and the law applicable to its interpretation, including whether the document specifically preserves Gruden’s ability to sue the league, but not the Raiders.

Of course, the league is the Raiders, along with the other 31 teams. Thus, no matter what the settlement agreement states, it will be no surprise if the NFL argues that any waiver of the Raiders counts as a waiver of the NFL.

It likely will take months to conclude these preliminary battles between Gruden and the NFL. The resolution of those and any other threshold issues will influence significantly whether Gruden or the NFL will prevail on the question of whether the league violated his legal rights through the alleged leaks of emails he sent to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen.

15 responses to “NFL’s defense of Jon Gruden’s lawsuit likely will start with a fight over the proper forum

  1. If I remember correctly the STL vs NFL venue started with Kroenke claiming that arbitration was the venue. How did that work for him?

  2. If I remember correctly the STL vs NFL venue started with the NFL claiming that arbitration was the venue. How did that work for them?

  3. The NFL will have to settle or else Gruden can compel in discovery emails from other teams to show he was treated differently. He can also compel the release of all 65,000 Washington emails. You think the NFL wants that?

  4. It is my hope that Coach Gruden and his legal team stick it to the NFL. Coach Gruden was unfairly targeted by the powers that be. Those emails (whose subject matter and content are irrelevant) were released by the NFL with the espress purpose of damaging Grudens reputation. Coach Grudens reputation has been damaged to the point he won’t be able to work in the league ever again and he should be duly compensated

  5. So if the league is the Raiders then why can’t they be sued in Nevada since the Raiders are in Nevada and they are the league?

  6. Hey Score At Will: The St. Louis lawsuit is for breach of the Lambs lease in St.Louis plus some other tort claims. If it had an arbitration agreement it was very different than the NFL arbitration or grievance procedure for coaches.

    Also, The Gruden lawsuit is not for breach of his employment agreement but torts. That doesn’t mean the NFL won’t try to get a court to order his case to Arbitration, but the outcome of that will depend on the language of that specific arbitration or grievance procedure.

    The settlement agreement and release between Gruden and Da Raiders can easily carve out claims against the NFL and Goodell. However, Mark Davis or Da Raiders essentially own 1/32 of the NFL, and are undoubtedly bound by contract to indemnify Goodell who won’t spend or lose 1 penny to Gruden even if Gruden gets a judgment against Goodell.

    The NFL will likely cross-complain against Da Raiders and Mark Davis for indemnity. Then Da Raiders and Mark Davis will cross- complain back against the NFL and Goodell and maybe others in or around the NFL like the WFT so it gets to be one giant circular jerk.

    Gruden and Mark Davis are close. I’ll bet their lawyers are coordinating and won’t stop until they get to review all of those emails and make public the good ones or the other 31 owners pony up an offer that Gruden and Davis can’t refuse.

    Game on!

  7. NFL should just cut their losses and go ahead and build a stadium in St. Louis and give the team the Gruden.

  8. Only once have I seen a settlement agreement that gave a potential litigant a second bite at the apple. Two cases were filed concurrently in two distinct jurisdictions under two distinct causes of action and the judge in one convinced the principles to settle in chambers. Big mistake by counsel of the defendants to miss it. I seriously doubt the NFL would make a similar mistake.

  9. Gruden’s reputation was harmed by his own words. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

  10. Whats ironic is Gruden will be using the settlement money from the Raiders to sue the NFL. Al Davis would be proud.

  11. I want Goodell’s reputation as a sleazy individual to be acknowledged. How Goodell smeared Tom Brady and spent $8 million dollars for a test that denied cold air lessens air temperature is absolutely pond scum slippery. So I wonder how Goodell will rig the process so that ALL the emails aren’t released, just the few cherry- picked emails to protect Goodell’s friends.

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