Thursday, September 27, 2012
Goodell-Vilma ruling next week
ESPN.com news services
A judge said he will rule next week on Roger Goodell's request to stop Jonathan Vilma's lawyers from deposing the NFL commissioner and obtaining documents related to the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Vilma has filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Goodell in connection to the league's handling of the bounty scandal. Peter Ginsburg, Vilma's lawyer, has subpoenaed Goodell, former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo.
U.S. Magistrate Daniel Knowles III said late Thursday that he will rule on whether Ginsburg and Vilma's other attorneys can proceed with all of those requests next week.
Earlier Thursday, Ginsberg appeared before Knowles to address the timing of discovery in the lawsuit, arguing that Vilma's team had the right to collect the information in a timely fashion.
Goodell is contending he has the right to resist a requested deposition until after U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan rules on his motion to dismiss the defamation action. Vilma and Ginsberg contend that neither the law nor justice tolerates any further delay.
Vilma and Ginsberg also contended that Goodell has neither standing nor basis to stop requests for information from Williams or Cerullo.
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, meanwhile, is expected to meet Friday with Goodell. Fujita is the last player from the bounty scandal to meet with Goodell after the appeals panel made its decision to lift the suspensions of the four players punished in the bounty scandal.
When the appeal panel vacated the suspension of players in the Saints bounty case on Sept. 7, Berrigan issued an order saying she would take no action on pending matters "at this time." After that order, Ginsberg began sending out subpoenas demanding documents and depositions related to Vilma's defamation claims. Ginsberg has asked to depose Cerullo on Oct. 9, Williams on Oct. 15 and Goodell on Oct. 23.
Knowles suggested the court will resolve the dispute expeditiously.