New Orleans Saints  

 

NFL moves to dismiss lawsuits filed by Jonathan Vilma

The NFL filed two suits in Louisiana court Friday to dismiss lawsuits filed against it by New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is one of four players suspended for their roles in a pay-for-performance/"bounty" scandal that has engulfed the franchise this offseason. Vilma, a captain for the Saints, was suspended for the season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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One asks for the Eastern District Court to oppose Vilma's request for an injunction/restraining order because the court does not have jurisdiction outside of the ruling and Vilma did not meet all the requirements for an injunction to be issued. Arguments will be heard July 26.

The second motion asks the court to dismiss Vilma's claim and that of the three other suspended players -- Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith -- that Goodell's ruling to suspend the players should not be upheld. Requests have been made to have arguments heard Aug. 10, Aug. 13 or Aug. 14.

The expected moves by the league are the latest legal volley stemming from the "bounty" scandal. The league argues that Goodell's authority, the league's investigation and all other matters, followed all guidelines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. One of those policies is that Goodell has initial and appellate power in matters involving "conduct detrimental," which is how the bounty program was categorized.

The arguments filed Friday said Vilma and the other players opted not to follow all procedures of the CBA -- such as not appealing their suspensions after requesting the meeting to do as much with Goodell.

All the players and their lawyers attended appeal hearings at league headquarters but did not participate. Instead, the players filed suits in court to challenge Goodell's jurisdiction to rule. Since the players did not appeal, Goodell upheld suspensions for Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns (three games), Hargrove, who is with the Green Bay Packers (eight games) and the Saints' Smith (four games).

The NFL said they were key leaders in a "bounty" program that ran from 2009 to 2011. All have denied that there was a pay-to-injure program or their roles in any "bounty" program.

All but Vilma can participate in training camp and all preseason activities. Vilma's suspension already has taken effect.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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