The NFL claims that Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma cannot be granted an injunction to halt his year-long suspension because he has not exhausted all remedies under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
In a response filed in federal court today in response to Vilma’s lawsuit, the NFL goes on to argue that even if U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan rules in Vilma’s favor, the most she can do is send the case back to Commissioner Roger Goddell for further consideration.
“If the Court were to vacate the Commissioner’s decision, the only permissible remedy would be a remand to the Commissioner for further proceedings,” NFL lawyers argued in their brief.
“It is also undisputed that Mr. Vilma and the NFLPA have not exhausted the dispute resolution procedures available to them under the CBA,” the NFL attorneys wrote.
Previously, Vilma’s attorneys argued that they did not follow through with the NFL's appeals process because Goddell was acting as arbitrator after already concluding that Vilma and other players engaged in a pay-for-injury bounty system.
“Mr. Goodell has prejudged – publicly and unwaveringly – the seminal issues to be resolved at the Appeal,” Vilma’s attorneys argued in a July 28 filing.
“In light of his (Goddell’s) bias and prejudgment of the underlying allegations,” Vilma is seeking to block the commissioner from serving as arbitrator.
With training camp in full swing, Judge Berrigan is expected to rule on Vilma’s request for an injunction within the next two weeks.