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 Vilma sues Goodell for defamation 
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Post Vilma sues Goodell for defamation
PFT wrote:
Vilma sues Goodell for defamation
Posted by Mike Florio on May 17, 2012, 3:33 PM EDT

Like so many other developments in the Saints’ bounty drama, the latest one has arrived out of the blue, without warning.

During last Friday’s PFT Live, lawyer Peter Ginsberg vaguely hinted at additional legal action that he may be taking on behalf of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma. But there was no indication that Vilma would file a lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

That’s precisely what Vilma has done. It’s Vilma v. Goodell, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the federal court that encompasses New Orleans.

As specified in paragraph 1 on the complaint, the claim is defamation, which means that Vilma contends Goodell lied about Vilma when making public statements about Vilma’s role in the alleged bounty program.

What follows over the next 112 numbered paragraphs are a variety of specific allegations that, in short, claim the Commissioner has been untruthful about Vilma’s involvement in the bounty program, and that Vilma never “pledged” and “never paid, or intended to pay” $10,000 or any amount of money as an incentive to knock Brett Favre or Kurt Warner out of 2009 playoff games, or any other player in any other game.

Curiously, Vilma never says that he never “offered” to pay $10,000 as an incentive to knock Brett Favre or Kurt Warner or anyone else out of any games. The use of the phrase “never paid, or intended to pay” copies the content of Vilma’s May 2 statement, which seemed to dance around the possibility that Vilma, perhaps in the heat of the moment, made a hollow offer to pay the money as part of an exercise in standard pregame hyperbole.

Above all else, the lawsuit appears to be a mechanism for forcing the NFL to put the evidence against Vilma on the table. Since truth is an absolute defense to any defamation claim, Goodell can vindicate himself by offering up proof to support the statements he has made.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... efamation/
Question for our resident lawyers / law experts, what are the chances Vilma actually accomplishes anything with this lawsuit? From what I understand it is very difficult to prove defamation is this true?

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May 18th, 2012, 12:55 pm
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Post Re: Vilma sues Goodell for defamation
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League responds to Vilma suit, reiterates commitment to safety and integrity
Posted by Mike Florio on May 17, 2012, 4:34 PM EDT

The NFL has responded to the lawsuit filed Thursday by Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma against Commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation.

“We have not yet reviewed the filing,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via email. “However, our commitment to player safety and the integrity of the game is our main consideration. We recognize that not everyone will agree with decisions that need to be made.”

Goodell will have 30 days to formally respond to the complaint, once it is officially served. It will be far more detailed than the paragraph appearing above, and it likely will consist of an effort to dismiss the case, possibly under the argument that the labor agreement supersedes the litigation process, forcing Vilma to file a grievance under the CBA.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... integrity/

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May 18th, 2012, 12:56 pm
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Post Re: Vilma sues Goodell for defamation
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First fight in Vilma suit likely will arise under CBA
Posted by Mike Florio on May 18, 2012, 8:47 AM EDT

Thursday’s unexpected development in the Saints’ bounty scandal came from the decision of linebacker Jonathan Vilma to sue Commissioner Roger Goodell in a Louisiana federal court. As mentioned in the first of what surely will be more than 10 and less than 1,000 items on the legal action, Goodell’s initial line of defense will arise under the labor deal.

Specifically, he’ll file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, citing Article 43, which sets forth the procedures for “non-injury grievances.”

Here’s what it says (free one-year PFT subscription to anyone who reads it all): “Any dispute (hereinafter referred to as a ‘grievance’) arising after the execution of this Agreement and involving the interpretation of, application of, or compliance with, any provision of this Agreement, the NFL Player Contract, the Practice Squad Player Contract, or any applicable provision of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws or NFL Rules pertaining to the terms and conditions of employment of NFL players, will be resolved exclusively in accordance with the procedure set forth in this Article, except wherever another method of dispute resolution is set forth elsewhere in this Agreement.”

The lawsuit claims that Goodell lied about Vilma in multiple ways via written and spoken communications regarding Vilma’s alleged role in the bounty program. Goodell undoubtedly will argue that he was acting in his capacity as NFL Commissioner, and that all statements about the bounty investigation were made under the provisions of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws regarding the integrity of the game. Thus, the argument will be that Vilma is required to pursue “any dispute” regarding those comments to the procedures set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will shield the NFL from the public nature of a civil action — and ultimately from the whims of a Louisiana jury.

It’s a common argument, identical to the defense the NFL already has raised to the concussion lawsuits brought by former players. Labor agreements routinely establish in-house mechanisms for resolving disputes, and the Federal Arbitration Act gives judges a mechanism for washing their hands of lawsuits that otherwise are covered by the terms of a CBA.

That said, Vilma likely will claim that Goodell forfeited the protection of the CBA by making statements that were beyond the confines of the application of the NFL Constitution and Bylaws. The argument likely will be that Goodell should have merely suspended Vilma without public commentary or accusation, saying nothing about what Vilma allegedly did to merit the suspension.

If that’s the argument, it could have some merit. Without question, the NFL has chosen to release certain information publicly in the hopes that it will shape the perception of media and fans regarding the Saints’ bounty program. The question for the court to decide will be whether those activities pull the situation away from the four corners of the CBA.

Goodell will have other defenses. Vilma, for example, is a public figure, which means that Vilma will have to prove that Goodell acted with malice. To prove the existence of malice in this context, Vilma will have to show that Goodell knew the statements were false, or that he acted with reckless disregard as to whether the statements were true or false. Vilma’s argument, if the case progresses to that point, surely will be that Goodell jumped to irrational conclusions as to Vilma in order to advance his safety agenda.

For more talk about the lawsuit, tune in to Friday’s PFT Live, which will feature a return visit from Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg. Until then, here’s a little more about the situation from last night’s NBC SportsTalk.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... under-cba/

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May 18th, 2012, 1:00 pm
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Post Re: Vilma sues Goodell for defamation
Crickets????
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Question for our resident lawyers / law experts, what are the chances Vilma actually accomplishes anything with this lawsuit? From what I understand it is very difficult to prove defamation is this true?
Would anyone care to share their opinion on this? Or is most everyone already sick of hearing about this and ready for the season to get here? :cheers: :arrow: :idea:

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May 21st, 2012, 1:10 pm
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Post Re: Vilma sues Goodell for defamation
I don't think the Article 43 dismissal under the CBA will fly. Gooddell will be trying to get a defamation suit dismissed because Vilma (and Gooddell) are protected by the CBA, but a contract isn't a viel for an illegal activity (the intentional tort of defamation). IMO Gooddell and his attorney's are only making this claim to cost Vilma and Vilma's attorney's a bunch of time and money. The NFL has deeper pockets, and they're trying to "sweat out" Vilma and his attorney(s).

That said, defamation suits are GENERALLY hard to prove, but this isn't the run of the mill case. Defamaiton suits are tough for two reasons 1) proving that someone else actually said the thing you're suing them for, and 2) proving damages. The latter is going to be a bit more problematic for Vilma, but there is a solid record of the former.

If what Vilma says is true (that Gooddell accused Vilma of taking money, etc. under the bounty program) and it turns out that he only OFFERED other people money he could very well win his case. However, when it comes to proving his damages, he's going to run into several problems:

1) He's suspended for a year not because of Gooddell's comments, but because of his own actions (i.e. Gooddell's comments aren't the cause of his suspension and therefore Gooddell isn't responsible for Vilma's 2012 salary);

2) He's not denying that he's participated in the bounty program and everything that goes with it. What % of endorsement money lost came from Vilma's actions vs Gooddell's comments? That's what a judge or jury is going to have to decide.


May 21st, 2012, 2:00 pm
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