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Old 05-17-2012, 04:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

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NEW ORLEANS -- Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a defamation lawsuit Thursday against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, claiming the league's top executive made false statements that tarnished Vilma's reputation and hindered his ability to earn a living playing football.

he suit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans claims Goodell, "relied on, at best, hearsay, circumstantial evidence and lies" in making comments about Vilma while discussing the NFL's bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints.

Goodell has said Vilma was a leader of the team's bounty program that put up thousands of dollars for hits which took out opposing teams' star players from 2009-11, including $10,000 each on then-Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner and then-Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre during the playoffs in 2010.

"Commissioner Goodell opted to make very public and unfortunately erroneous allegations against Jonathan," said Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg. "By making these false and public statements, he has significantly harmed Jonathan's reputation and ability to make a living.

"By suing Commissioner Goodell in court, Jonathan opted to use a fair playing field where he has procedural rights and protections to remedy the harm Commissioner Goodell has done to him."

Vilma wrote on his Twitter account that, "As I've said before..I NEVER PAID, NOR INTENDED TO PAY ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY, TO ANY PLAYER FOR INTENTIONALLY HURTING AN OPPONENT."

Goodell has suspended Vilma, an eight-year veteran and defensive captain, for the entire 2012 season. Vilma and three other current of former Saints who received shorter suspensions -- defensive end Will Smith, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove and linebacker Scott Fujita -- all have appealed their punishments. Hargrove now plays for Green Bay while Fujita is with Cleveland.

"We have not yet reviewed the filing," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. "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."

The NFL also hired former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White in late 2011 to review its evidence in the case, and White has said the NFL's findings are corroborated by multiple independent witnesses as well as documentation.

Vilma's lawsuit, which is expected to be heard by Judge Ginger Berrigan, asks for unspecified monetary damages as well as punitive damage and attorneys fees.

The lawsuit states that Goodell, "knew and intended that Vilma would suffer severe emotional distress" when the NFL published its bounty report and handed down punishment for the 30-year-old linebacker.

"Vilma will soon have to leave behind the world of professional football and will likely face difficulties in obtaining other employment and entering into new ventures as a result of Goodell's false and defamatory statements," the lawsuit said. "Media will forever mention his name in the context of the bounty investigation and fans will forever remember Vilma with ill repute rather than remember his substantial accomplishments on and off the field."

The players' association has said that the league has refused to turn over what the union would view as hard evidence that Vilma or the other sanctioned players tried to intentionally injure targeted opponents, or sponsored such behavior.

"It is certainly the case that in court, Jonathan will have a right to see whatever it is that Commissioner Goodell has been hiding from us and what Commissioner Goodell contends gave him a basis to make these false allegations," Ginsberg said. "We will have a fair and neutral judge to preside over the dispute rather than contending with the executioner also being the person making the final decision."

Vilma's lawsuit states that the linebacker "never 'pledged,' made or received payments of any kind encouraging or resulting from an opposing player being injured."

The NFL found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams oversaw a bounty program in New Orleans from 2009 to 2011 which paid off-the-books cash bonuses of $1,500 for "knockouts," or hits which forced a player out of games, and $1,000 for "cart-offs," which left players needing help off the field.
http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/79...ell-defamation
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

The courts are going to want to stay the hell out of this nonsense.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

Vilma is cysing this shit. lol
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

*sicing
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

I'm siding with the dudes from Fiyastarter. They're old and have been typing cysing for years.
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

Who are they...I just searched their blog...they from the DMV
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Old 05-18-2012, 02:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

This is awesome.

1) Can he sue Goodell? Is it barred by the CBA?

2) What are the actual damages? If Goodell suspends him, THAT is what prevents him from making a living playing football, not the knowingly false statements. Maybe if it prevents him from getting a CFL contract of something. I don't think you can speculate future loss in salary because we have no idea if Vilma will be blackballed from the league or not.
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

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Originally Posted by Dre View Post
Who are they...I just searched their blog...they from the DMV
Yeah. Fiyastarter.com and they have a podcast (kinda long) but it's my favorite. The guys post on a few different boards (mostly SOHH & OKP) but it's funny.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

This is an interesting case, but Vilma's got a very tough time ahead if he actually thinks he can win, as opposed to making Goodell disclose evidence, or as part of a larger PR move. Vilma's a public figure, as is Goodell for that matter, and Goodell's comments were regarding an issue that is a matter of public concern. Not having seen any evidence or filings I can't say for sure, but my guess is that Vilma would have to prove that Goodell's statements about him were not only false, but made with actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth. If Goodell can show that several sources corroborated the information - even if it wasn't entirely accurate - and that he acted in good faith on that basis, Vilma would lose.
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:04 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

In general the courts try their best to stay out of matters like this. The judge will probably read the CBA looking for a way to say that this is between the league and the Union, unless he's got nothing better to do with his time.
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:06 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

Defamation is a private tort claim that doesn't stem from Vilma's contract or the CBA, and I don't think the CBA can block such a claim, legally.
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Old 05-19-2012, 07:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

Even so, what are the damages? It isn't any defamation that is preventing him making money playing in the league, rather it is being suspended for a year. Unless Goodell defamed Vilma to himself?
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Old 05-19-2012, 11:52 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Well, damages are presumed for libel and for slander per se, but I just don't see how he could prove his case...

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Old 05-19-2012, 09:48 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

You make a good point, but I just don't trust anyone with a Droid 2, and I really think that VerticalSports.com App is a piece of shit.
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:01 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Suspended Saints' LB Vilma sues Goodell

Yeah, that Vertical Sports app is a waste. lol
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