Ex-NFL Player DeMeco Ryans Fights Arbitration in Lawsuit Versus Texans

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Former Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans has asked the Texas Supreme Court to let his lawsuit against the Texans continue, instead of going to arbitration.

As we reported earlier,  Ryans sued the Houston Texans back in 2016, alleging that they were responsible for an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in 2014. Specifically, Ryans claimed that the field of NRG Stadium was maintained in a poor condition, as the playing field consists of square patches of actual grass interwoven with seams of artificial turf. Several players blamed their injuries on the condition of the field, which Ryans uses to argue that the Texans were made aware of the shoddy field conditions.

The Texans responded by removing the case to the federal court, arguing that the lawsuit was preempted by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and Labor Management Relations Act. Ryans, however, successfully got the case sent back to state court, arguing that his claims were not within the scope of the CBA since they involve whether the Texans maintained the stadium to protect any person within, not just NFL players.

Upon returning to state court, the Texans moved to compel arbitration, which was denied by the Harris County District Court. However, the First Court of Appeals found that the district court abused its discretion, moving the lawsuit to arbitration. Despite Ryans’ argument that his claim does not involve the CBA, the first court held that the claims are too intertwined with the CBA, which requires him to arbitrate these claims.

Now, Ryans has filed a petition with the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the first court was incorrect in its ruling. Specifically, Ryans argued that the first court’s decision is inconsistent with one from the 14th Court of Appeals, which forbade compelling arbitration based on incomplete documents. Ryans claimed that the Texans failed to introduce a complete copy of the CBA, as well as failed to introduce a copy of NFL rules that govern field conditions. In criticizing the first court’s decision, Ryans’ petition states that the court “was so reliant on presumptions that it even rested its decision on purported NFL rules that appear nowhere in the record.”

Whether this case will be litigated or arbitrated depends on how the Texas Supreme Court resolves this state circuit split. We will continue to monitor this case.

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