Originally posted: October 12, 2017
A federal appeals court overturned a district court’s decision in the Ezekiel Elliott case Thursday, meaning the Dallas Cowboys running back’s six-game suspension has been reinstated.
The 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of the NFL that the district court did not have subject matter jurisdiction in Elliott case after hearing oral arguments from the league and NFL Players Association lawyers earlier this month. It vacates the preliminary injunction and directs an order to the lower court to dismiss the case.
However, the NFLPA is expected to re-file the case with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in order to keep Elliott playing, according to Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Program. The Cowboys have a bye this week and there’s a chance Elliott might not miss a single game if the NFLPA refiles the case and is granted a TRO or preliminary injunction.
Elliott and the NFLPA have other legal options as well. They could seek an en banc hearing with the 5th Circuit or refile the case in Texas, according to Feldman.
“So the Players Association could ask the district court in New York or perhaps some other court to reinstate the preliminary injunction, which would put that suspension back on hold,” Feldman said on NFL Network’s TNF First Look. “So this is not over yet, particularly with the bye week, that Elliott will not serve the suspension.
“Again it’s an uphill battle but it’s possible to get that ruling in eight days,” Feldman said. “Just because they get a ruling though doesn’t mean it’s a favorable ruling, but it’s certainly in the realm of possibility.”
In it’s majority decision, 5th Circuit judges Edward C. Prado and Jennifer Walker Elrod ruled that the NFLPA filed its lawsuit to have Elliott’s suspension dissolved before an arbitration decision was made on the decision.
“At the time the NFLPA filed the complaint, it was possible the arbitrator could have issued a final decision that was favorable to Elliott. Elliott cannot show it was futile to wait for a final decision simply because he believed the arbitrator would issue an unfavorable ruling. As there was no final decision, Elliott had not yet exhausted the contracted-for remedies.
“The District Court, therefore, lacked subject matter jurisdiction when it issued the preliminary injunction.”
In his dissenting decision, judge James E. Graves wrote he believed the district court properly and concluded the “NFL is unable to show a likelihood of success on the merits of any irreparable injury for purposes of a stay.”
The NFL appeal was part of an attempt by the NFL to enforce Elliott’s suspension this season and confirm NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to issue punishment based on “conduct detrimental” to the league as mandated in Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement.
District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III issued the preliminary injunction last month after agreeing with the NFLPA that Elliott didn’t receive a fair suspension appeal hearing from Goodell-appointed arbitrator Harold Henderson.
Goodell suspended Elliott after a year-long investigation into domestic violence accusations made by his former girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson. The league found he violated the league’s conduct policy, which mandates a six-game suspension for first-time domestic violence violations. In a letter sent to Elliott informing him of suspension in August, the NFL stated it believed he used physical force against Thompson three times over a span of five days in July 2016.
Elliott, 22, was never charged and has denied wrongdoing.
Elliott has 105 carries, 393 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys this season.
As a non-profit entity, we do not have the staff to cover the NFL like other great websites. When we find great articles, we pass on the information and give credit where credit is due. The content on our website is provided for FREE and solely to assist the participants in the Fantasy Gives fantasy football fundraiser, where we utilize fantasy sports as a means to support non-profit groups.
This post was adapted from a website that we love! We highly recommend visiting NFL.com for more great content!