In May, New Orleans Saints Linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation of character, claiming Goodell made false statements regarding the Saints’ bounty scheme that ultimately damaged his reputation.
Now the NFL is filing a grievance with the NFL Players Association requesting that Vilma withdraw his lawsuit. The NFL Management Council sent a letter to the NFLPA claiming that under the current collective bargaining agreement no player can sue the league or any of its clubs.
“Clearly, League Discipline, and the Commissioner’s responsibility for upholding that Policy, is ‘conduct permitted by the CBA’ and under the NFL’s Constitution and Bylaws. Because all challenged communication occurred in furtherance of the Commissioner’s responsibility, such conduct falls squarely within the protections of Article 3′s no-suit provision.”
Here’s Vilma’s response on Twitter…
Vilma’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg said his client will not be withdrawing his lawsuit because he’s not suing the league or any of its teams. Instead, he’s suing Goodell specifically.
“Neither the NFL nor any NFL Club is a party to Mr. Vilma’s lawsuit,” Ginsberg says in the letter. “Mr. Goodell is the defendant in the action at issue. Further, you are not counsel of record nor, to the best of my knowledge, do you have the authority to represent a private party in any proceeding, including the lawsuit filed against Mr. Goodell.”
As this saga continues to unfold, I can’t help but think of the millions of dollars that will continue to be thrown at lawyers in a series of lawsuits and counter-suits until in the end no one is sure who is suing who and why. Pretty slick of Vlima though (or I suppose Vilma’s lawyer) if he has in fact just sued Goodell, because he was able to circumvent the anti-lawsuit clause in the CBA.
But seriously Vilma, saying “they no Likey me lawsuitey” feels vaguely racist in a Mickey Rooneyish kind of way.