Lead Block: NFL Teams Rally to Pre-empt Jerry Jones and Jim Irsay Deposition Testimony

All 23 National Football League (NFL) teams are rallying behind two of their most notorious owners: Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts. In a letter written to U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the teams asked that Jones and Irsay be excused from giving deposition testimony in a case involving alleged wide-scale painkiller abuse. Specifically, the teams want a protective order imposed that would “at least [defer]” the two owners from giving deposition testimony.

The teams are relying on a legal maxim known as the “apex” doctrine to attempt to prevent Jones and Irsay from participating in deposition testimony. To invoke the doctrine, attorneys for the teams will have to meet two elements. First, counsel must show that either Jones or Irsay has “unique first-hand, non-repetitive knowledge of [the] facts at issue in the case[.]” Second, the Plaintiffs will have to show that they have “exhausted other less intrusive discovery methods.” Attorneys for the NFL teams argue that team doctors have better insight into the Plaintiffs’ claim than any team owner would.

The lawsuit, brought by a proposed class of retired football players, alleges that NFL team doctors dispensed far more painkillers than were necessary to players experiencing injuries, in an effort to keep players on the field. Further, Plaintiffs allege that Irsay and Jones are known for being highly involved with the daily activities of their respective organizations and have also drawn attention through “off the field” activities related to painkillers. Jim Irsay has had an ongoing issue with addiction to painkillers, on display recently when he was arrested in 2014 for driving while intoxicated. It has been alleged that at the time of his arrest, Irsay had painkillers provided by Colts personnel.

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