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Vilma, league return to court; Judge does not rule

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By PFW staff

Saints LB Jonathan Vilma and the NFL’s legal team returned to federal court in New Orleans on Friday, but U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan did not rule on the league’s motion to dismiss Vilma’s lawsuit.

Vilma seeks to have the court overturn his yearlong suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program. He also has requested a temporary restraining order against the league so he can return to work as his lawsuits move forward. Vilma has also filed a defamation lawsuit against commissioner Roger Goodell.

According to reports, Berrigan said that she would be in favor of ruling for Vilma if she is able to do so legally. On Aug. 30, Vilma has an appeal before arbitrator Stephen Burbank, and Berrigan was not sure if she would rule by then.

Berrigan urged the two sides to work toward a settlement. ESPN reported last week that the league offered to reduce Vilma’s suspension to eight games on the condition that he drop his lawsuits.

The NFLPA argues that Goodell does not have the jurisdiction to be the arbitrator and that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement does not allow suspensions as punishments for pay-for-performance pools, as no Saints player has admitted publicly or under oath that a pay-to-injure program took place.

The league maintains that federal courts do not have jurisdiction to interfere in a process that was collectively bargained.

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