New Orleans Saints  

 

Jonathan Vilma, NFL in court; no ruling on motion to dismiss

NEW ORLEANS -- A U.S. District Court judge didn't rule Friday on the NFL's motion to dismiss Jonathan Vilma's lawsuit, which seeks to overturn his season-long suspension for his role in the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" scandal.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Ginger Berrigan said she doesn't know how long a ruling would take, but she hinted that it could be days before a decision is made.

Jonathan Vilma appeared in court Friday, where a judge heard the NFL's motion to dismiss the New Orleans Saints linebacker's lawsuit seeking to overturn his
Jonathan Vilma appeared in court Friday, where a judge heard the NFL's motion to dismiss the New Orleans Saints linebacker's lawsuit seeking to overturn his "bounty" season suspension. (file) (Mark Lennihan/Associated Press)

"I thought today went as smoothly as it could go," said Vilma, who noted he wasn't disappointed with the lack of ruling. "I didn't come in with any expectations."

Berrigan said during Friday's proceedings that she's inclined to rule in favor of Vilma if able to do so legally, citing the NFL's ruling as not being "transparent or fair." Berrigan added she wasn't sure if she could make a ruling before Vilma's Aug. 30 appeal hearing in front of arbitrator Stephen Burbank.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees attended Friday's hearing in support of Vilma, who appeared surprised by his teammate's presence.

Vilma had requested a temporary restraining order against the NFL while his lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell moves forward. Lawyers for Vilma have argued that Goodell previously made biased public statements about the linebacker's involvement in the "bounty" program before player punishment was handed out, making the commissioner an impartial arbitrator, as outlined in NFL's collective bargaining agreement.

Vilma also has filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell.

Goodell suspended Vilma for the 2012 season, along with handing suspensions to three other players for their involvement in the "bounty" program that offered Saints players cash bonuses for targeting opponents.

Saints defensive end Will Smith and former Saints players Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita are using lawyers provided by the NFL Players Association, which also has filed suit in federal court in New Orleans seeking to have the suspensions overturned.

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