It appears the NFL no longer has to worry about a federal lawsuit when it comes to the controversy surrounding the Rams’ victory over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game.
The Associated Press reported that the last of three federal lawsuits filed against the NFL in the wake of a missed pass interference call was dismissed by a judge on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan ruled that the fans who filed the suit are not entitled to damage payments after they contended they paid the NFL to provide a fairly played game.
All three federal lawsuits brought by fans in the wake of the controversial game have been dismissed by judges, but a state-level case is still ongoing. A Louisiana judge ordered NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and three officials from the game to be questioned under oath. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Antonio LeMon, seeks $75,000 in damages -- all of which LeMon said he would donate to charity. The NFL hasn’t announced whether it will file an appeal to delay or cancel the questioning.
The lawsuits stem from officials not calling pass interference on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman when he prevented Saints receiver Tommyee Lewis from making a catch in the fourth quarter of the game. New Orleans was forced to settle for a field goal instead of a potential first-and-goal situation with under two minutes to play. Los Angeles eventually tied the game and then won in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl.
When it comes to the NFL rulebook or guidelines established by the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the courts have overwhelmingly sided with the league in past cases. In the Tom Brady Deflategate saga and Ezekiel Elliott’s 2017 suspension, the courts eventually sided with the NFL in how it chooses to enforce its rules. While those cases essentially became labor disputes regarding CBA bylaws, judges determined the league and the commissioner have the power to enforce its rules as it sees fit. Under that precedent, the chances of a lawsuit succeeding against the NFL faces long odds.