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Players defend right to decertify ahead of April 6 hearing

The NFL Players Association filed an 18-page response to the NFL's brief of March 21 in advance of the April 6 hearing of Brady vs. the NFL.

Next week's hearing is to determine whether an injunction should be granted to the players to lift the ongoing lockout imposed by the league.

In its Monday filing, the class counsel of plaintiffs claimed that, per the terms of the expired collective bargaining agreement, the NFL could not use the "sham" defense to discredit the NFLPA's decertification, because it happened while the old CBA was still intact.

The NFL's filing claimed that the National Labor Relations Board -- with which the league filed an unfair labor practice charge, claiming the NFLPA's decertification is a "sham" -- maintains primary jurisdiction over the case, and as such the federal court presiding over Brady vs. the NFL could not grant an injunction without a ruling from the NLRB. The NFLPA, in turn, cited a ruling from Judge David Doty in the early 1990s that allowed a similar decertification, saying that the players had done enough to prove the legitimacy of the renunciation of union status and pursue the antitrust case.

The NFLPA also filed a series of exhibits to the federal court, which included 40 signatures from current players, representing all 32 teams, reaffirming their decision to renounce union status.

The NFL's filing of March 21 was based on the primary jurisdiction defense, and also the precedent of the Norris-Laguardia Act, which says that "No court of the United States shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction on any case involving or growing out of any labor dispute."

Judge Susan Nelson will consider each side's briefs before hearing the case next Wednesday. It's uncertain when she will come to a ruling.

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