NEW ORLEANS -- A federal judge has all but ruled out any prospects for a settlement in the case of four NFL players challenging their "bounty" suspensions.
U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan issued an order Wednesday in which she lamented the failure of settlement talks, then asked for more filings pertaining to the players' request for a temporary restraining order that would allow them to return to their teams while their case against the NFL proceeds.
Berrigan wrote that she believes the four players' interests have been undermined by "longstanding acrimony among all of the attorneys representing all of the parties that predates these disputes."
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Her comments were an apparent allusion to rivalries between representatives of the NFL and NFL Players Association, which date back to previous disagreements including the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement that came together only after a bitter, several-month lockout.
Berrigan wrote that she found the failure of settlement talks "extremely disappointing" because she believed "they would likely have resulted in some relief for all four (of) the players."
The judge also mentioned that she believes all sides have competing agendas, leaving her concerned about a possible conflict of interest for three players who are represented by the same lawyers representing the NFLPA.
The judge also ordered the league to file by Thursday its response to the NFLPA's request earlier this week for a temporary restraining order on behalf of Smith, Fujita and Hargrove.
The league has until Friday to respond to the players' and union's positions on potential conflicts of interest.
Smith has been suspended four games, Fujita three and Hargrove eight.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press