U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson on Monday granted the motion by the Brady class to add NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith to the players' counsel, and consolidated the Brady et al v. the National Football League et al and Eller et al v. National Football League et al cases.
Adding Smith, who practices law in Washington, D.C., to the legal team allows him to participate in any and all mediation that might take place under Nelson's supervision in St. Paul, Minn. Lawyers who practice in a different state must file for approval through the court.
Nelson had indicated on Wednesday during the injunction hearing that she would consolidate the Brady and Eller cases. Neither the Brady plaintiffs nor the NFL objected to combining the cases, according to a court document filed Monday.
Attorneys for the NFL and players held a Friday morning conference call, attended by Nelson, to discuss how and where -- and under whose authority -- they are willing to resume mediation during the league lockout.
The primary differences in opinion sat with the players requesting that Nelson appoint a mediator and hold the sessions in federal court, and the NFL asking for them to return to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, where the sides went through 16 days of mediation in late February and early March.
Those talks failed to result in a new collective bargaining agreement, and the old one expired. The NFLPA decertified, saying it no longer represented players in bargaining under labor law, which allowed them to sue the league under antitrust law. Owners locked out the players, creating the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.
The players say the lockout is illegal, and the owners claim the decertification of the union was a negotiating ploy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.