NFL Seeks to Block Disgruntled Fans From Refiling Their Deflategate Suit
On June 24, 2016, the NFL asked a Massachusetts federal judge to reopen a previously dismissed suit by a group of New England Patriots fans over the league’s punishments handed down in the Deflategate scandal. On June 10, 2016 a federal judge opted not to exercise jurisdiction essentially dismissing the matter; however, the New England Patriots fans took this purported lack of federal jurisdiction as a license to file their claims in state court. The NFL seeks the federal judge to reconsider their decision not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and dismiss the case outright.
Previously, seven fans of the New England Patriots filed suit against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell claiming that by docking the 29th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft – punishment handed down from the Deflategate hearings – they breached an implied contract with the fans rising to the level of racketeering. Under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act the fans sought an injunction returning the first-round pick to the Patriots, but since the draft occurred in April that sought relief is now moot. Earlier in June, the Massachusetts federal judge panned the fan’s lawsuit stating they failed to make any legitimate claims and as a result declined to exercise federal supplemental jurisdiction. However, this decision gave the New England Patriots fans an avenue to refile their suit in state court despite the judge’s decision and cynicism. With its Motion for Relief from Judgement filed on Friday, the NFL is imploring the Massachusetts federal judge to reopen the case and dismiss all of the fans claims outright so they cannot file in state court. Of note, days before the NFL draft in April the First Circuit declined to review the district court’s decision not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.
The NFL has continually characterized the New England Patriots fans claims as meritless and frivolous going so far as to request attorney’s fees from the fans. The NFL asserts that there is no doubt that they can defend themselves appropriately, but they shouldn’t have to against the same claims in state court. On the other side, attorneys for the New England Patriots fans claim the NFL is mischaracterizing their lawsuit and are becoming one of numerous examples of a powerful yet corrupt entity trying to step on the innocent little guys for speaking out.