Judge David Doty has agreed to hear arguments on the merits of a lawsuit filed by the NFL Players Association accusing the NFL of collusion, a source with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday.
Doty, a judge in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, has not determined yet whether his court will take the case. He will review the arguments at a hearing -- set for Sept. 6, the day after the Wednesday night kickoff game -- and then decide.
In the lawsuit, which was filed May 23, the NFLPA argued that the NFL had imposed a secret salary cap of $123 million in the uncapped year of 2010 and penalized the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints for breaking it. The league docked the Redskins and the Cowboys $35 million and $10 million in cap room, respectively, redistributing that money among 28 other clubs, excluding the Raiders and Saints for similar, less egregious violations.
The NFLPA's filing alleged that internal NFL calculations showed that Washington was $102,833,047 in excess of the secret cap, Dallas was $52,938,774 over, Oakland was $41,914,060 over and New Orleans was $36,329,770 over.
In turn, the NFL cited the Aug. 4, 2011 stipulation of dismissal that resulted from a 1993 lawsuit, White v. the NFL. According to that settlement, which was signed by NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler, the "parties stipulate to the dismissal with prejudice of all claims, known and unknown, whether pending or not" including "asserted collusion with respect to the 2010 league year." Kessler claimed during a May conference call that a Minnesota court had rejected the stipulation.
On Aug. 11, 2011, Doty "ordered that all claims pending regarding the stipulation and settlement agreement are dismissed. All other outstanding motions are dismissed." Kessler said Doty's specification of "pending" cases left the door open for cases that were not pending, such as the current collusion suit.
In May, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to that assertion in an email, claiming that the union's contention was "not accurate." He continued, writing that "a stipulation of dismissal on behalf of the union and the White class was signed by Kessler and filed in the Court. The union is bound by that document."
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