Litigation

Patriots Quarterback’s 4-Game ‘Deflategate’ Suspension Lifted By New York Federal Judge

  

In an opinion issued on September 3, 2015, Judge Richard M. Berman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated New England Patriots quarterback’s Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.  The suspension was imposed following an investigation initiated by the NFL concerning allegedly deflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2015, between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.

Judge Berman concluded that the arbitration award imposing the four-game suspension pursuant to Article 46 of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine designated co-lead investigator Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes.

According to Judge Berman, the NFL’s steroids policy could not, as a matter of law, serve as adequate notice of discipline to Brady. The award offered no scientific, empirical, or historical evidence of any comparability between Brady's alleged offense and steroid use. Regarding "general awareness" of others' misconduct, Brady had no notice that such conduct was prohibited, or any reasonable certainty of potential discipline stemming from such conduct. The absence of such notice violated the "law of the shop."

Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell contended that Brady's discipline stemmed from the general CBA policy precluding players from engaging in any conduct that is detrimental to the integrity of, public confidence in, the game of professional football, Judge Berman found that Commissioner Goodell’s reliance on notice of the broad CBA "conduct detrimental" policy - as opposed to specific player policies regarding equipment violations - to impose discipline upon Brady was legally misplaced.

Judge Berman found that Commissioner Goodell improperly denied Brady the opportunity to examine designated co-lead investigator Pash, and that Brady was prejudiced by the denial. The denial of Brady’s motion to compel the testimony of Mr. Pash was fundamentally unfair and violated section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act.

Finally, Judge Berman found that Commissioner Goodell’s denial of the NFL Players’ Association requests for documents, memoranda, summaries, or notes of witness interviews created during the investigation was fundamentally unfair and that Brady was prejudiced as a result. Commissioner Goodell had the affirmative duty to ensure that relevant documentary evidence in the hands of one party was fully and timely made available to the other party.

The NFL is appealing the decision to the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

 For further reading, Lexis.com subscribers can access the opinion at NFL Mgmt. Council v. NFL Players Ass'n, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117662 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 3, 2015).  Lexis Advance subscribers can find the opinion here:   NFL Mgmt. Council v. NFL Players Ass'n, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117662 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 3, 2015).

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  • Nowedays a huge variety of football players and athletes in general use steroids. But it's important to understand the difference in their use, whether it is done to boost performancey, gain muscle mass, etc., or it's really needed by a medical prescription. Here more info about it steroidssaleguide.com/steroids-for-pain-the-use-of-these-medications-in-palliative-care Plus, we should take into account, that Tom Brady made a public confesion in  the steroid usage, however he had no notice that such conduct was prohibited, or any reasonable certainty of potential discipline stemming from such conduct.