NFL wins again: Brady lawsuit to be heard in New York

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Tom Brady’s petition for relief of his four-game suspension won’t be heard in the court of the NFLPA’s choosing.

Thursday morning, Judge Richard H. Kyle kicked the Brady’s petition to Manhattan, where the NFL filed a suit asking for validation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appeal decision on Tuesday, according to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal. 

The relevance of this is that the proceedings will now take place in the court of the NFL’s choosing. That the league moved to have the decision validated was described as “cowardly” by Don Yee, the agent for Tom Brady.

“They took the affirmative step to file a pre-emptive lawsuit in a favorable jurisdiction,” said Yee in a conversation with CSNNE.com on Wednesday. “If your decision is bulletproof and you have sound reasoning and sound evidence, why wouldn’t you be able to defend that in any jurisdiction? Why would you, the NFL, be the first to file a lawsuit? That is a tremendous sign of weakness. And to do it simultaneous with the issuance of the decision is actually cowardly. They are already starting their defense. If you know your reasoning and evidence are solid, what is there to defend? This is analogous to Ted Wells having a press conference. He could not let his work stand on its own.”

The NFLPA, in their petition, argued that Minnesota – not New York – was where the petition should proceed because there was precedent for Brady’s appeal that the Minnesota court dealt with during appeals of discipline given to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

On July 28, 2015, Commissioner Goodell issued the Award upholding Brady's discipline in its entirety. The Award is self-effectuating. Despite this fact, the NFL engaged in attempted preemptive forum shopping by  filing – virtually simultaneously with the issuance of the Award (the timing of which was unknown to the Union and Brady) – a proceeding to confirm the award in the Southern District of New York. The League knew that the central notice issues the Union had raised in the arbitration were directly related to the Peterson proceedings pending before this Court and yet deliberately sought to avoid review by this Court.”

Minnesota has been friendly to the NFLPA in cases against the NFL. The league, anticipating this, took advantage of a “we filed first, we get precedent” move to keep the proceedings out of Minnesota and on the NFL’s New York turf. It worked.

“This Court…perceives no reason for this action to proceed in Minnesota,” Judge Richard Kyle wrote, according to Kaplan. “On the same day the Award was issued, Respondent National Football League…commenced an action against the Union in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York seeing to confirm the Award. The New York Action triggers application of the first filed rule.”

 

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