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US Court of Appeals Overturns 2012 Collusion Ruling

Well this was unexpected. Judge Doty's ruling siding with the NFL in the collusion case that was brought to court by the NFLPA has been overturned.

The NFLPA's collusion case, with ties to the Redskins/Cowboys cap penalties, is back in the news as the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has overturned Judge Doty's decision siding with the NFL.  The NFL will argue that the NFLPA gave up any legal rights to claim collusion when they made a deal with the league to raise the 2012 salary cap.  This could turn into a major headache for the league, as it goes back to trial and with the possibility of damages that could be awarded if the NFLPA wins.  Mike Florio writes that the NFL will try to get this case settled before they are forced to share communications between the league and teams regarding the unwritten rules of the salary cap in an uncapped year.  Updates to the story, will be added as they come out.  Stay tuned.

Per a league source, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has overturned a decision by Judge David Doty dismissing the NFLPA’s effort to claim collusion against the NFL made in the wake of the salary-cap penalties imposed on Dallas and Washington in 2012.

The case is now expected to proceed to the discovery process, which will force the NFL to disclose information about whether and to what extent teams were told to treat the uncapped year of 2010 under the prior labor deal as something other than, you know, an uncapped year.

The NFL is of course confident that they will still win the case:

The NFL remains confident that it will prevail in the case. "As the Court emphasized, today’s decision is entirely procedural in nature," the league said in a statement issued to PFT.  "Far from validating the Union’s claim, the Court specifically highlighted the heavy burden that the NFLPA faces in establishing this claim, and we remain highly confident that the claim will be dismissed yet again."

The NFLPA's statement on the ruling:

"Our union will always pursue and protect the rights of its players. We are pleased that the Eighth Circuit ruled that players have the opportunity to proceed with their claims. Through discovery and a hearing, we can understand how collusion took place. We have notified the NFL of its obligations to preserve all relevant documents and communications."

From Albert Breer:
I've got the ruling now. The court is indeed opening the case back up, but not necessarily supporting the union's claims. Here's the key passage: "Our holding should not be read as in any way expressing a view on the merits of the Association’s Rule 60(b) motion. "Rule 60(b) authorizes relief in only the most exceptional of cases," In re Guidant Corp. Implantable Defibrillators Prods. Liab. Litig., 496 F.3d 863, 866 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Noah v. Bond Cold Storage, 408 F.3d 1043, 1045 (8th Cir. 2005)), and the Association bears a heavy burden in attempting to convince the district court that the Dismissal was fraudulently procured. We hold only that the Association should be given the opportunity to meet this burden."
The official court ruling: