SBD/June 20, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Appeals Court Reinstates NFL Collusion Case Initially Dismissed As Part Of '11 CBA

The NFLPA will get to argue that the NFL pulled a fast one in getting the union to agree in '11 to drop all legal claims at that time, including that the league had colluded to restrain salaries in '10 as a condition of signing the CBA. That was the finding of the 8th Circuit Court of appeals Friday, which was considering the NFLPA’s appeal of a lower court decision denying them that chance. The 8th did deny the NFLPA’s effort to reconstitute the original White class-action settlement that formed the basis of the labor pact that governed the NFL from '93-'10. And the court noted the high hurdle the NFLPA faced in trying to revive the collusion claim, originally filed in early '11. “Our holding should not be read as in any way expressing a view on the merits of the Association’s ... motion” that the NFL had colluded and hid it to extract the '11 labor deal. “[T]he Association bears a heavy burden in attempting to convince the district court that the Dismissal was fraudulently procured. We hold only that the Association should be given the opportunity to meet this burden.” Several NFL officials in early '12 made comments about an agreement in '10 to have an unofficial salary cap, which would appear to have been a violation of the then CBA. The NFLPA filed its case in Judge David Doty’s Minnesota federal court, but he rejected its claim, noting all legal claims had been dismissed. The NFLPA tried two avenues of attack with the 8th, one that the original class-action settlement had not been properly dismissed and thus there was still standing to bring a collusion case. The 8th rejected that argument, and thus appears to have finally put an end to the White class. The court did say Doty erred in not allowing the NFLPA to argue it had been fraudulently induced to sign the '11 deal because it did not know the extent of the collusion.
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