US Judge Valerie Caproni said in a written ruling that attorneys for coaches Brian Flores, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton cannot collect additional evidence from the defendants to support their case. Lawyers are asking that the lawsuit be in federal court in Manhattan and not be sent to arbitration.
Plaintiffs should know if they have entered into any other contracts or agreements that would affect their agreement to arbitrate, Caproni wrote. The court can only assume that they are attempting to engage in inadmissible evidence gathering.
However, the judge said the coaches’ attorneys may well be able to argue that the proposed arbitrator is biased and the motion to compel arbitration should not be granted.
Flores, who was fired in January as head coach of the Miami Dolphins and is now assistant coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, filed a lawsuit in February, claiming the league was
plagued by racism even if she condemns him publicly. The other coaches then joined the action, which seeks interest and class-action status.
The NFL and six of its teams say the lawsuit is
unfounded and must go to arbitration, where Goodell would be the arbitrator, under terms set forth in the NFL collective bargaining agreement.
Flores attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis said in a statement that they are
persuaded to defeat the NFL’s efforts to take this matter to private arbitrator and behind closed doors.
It is apparent that the NFL is trying to hide behind this process and avoid public scrutiny of the racial discrimination and retaliation allegations we have filed. If they are confident in their defenses, they should let the process unfold in court so the general public can see itthey added.
Lawyers for the NFL and its teams did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.