A federal appeals court on Monday threw out a class action filed by National Football League retirees who claimed they were squeezed out of a deal negotiated amid the 2011 player lockout.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal, finding that the retirees failed to show they could have negotiated a deal better than the $900 million in additional retiree benefits the agreement ultimately yielded.
The plaintiffs, a group of 28 retired players led by former Minnesota Viking Carl Eller, sued the National Football League Players Association in 2011. The lawsuit also named players union members including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Filed in Minnesota district court, the class action claimed that the union, in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the NFL two years ago, intentionally interfered with the retirees’ ability to negotiate with the NFL, which led to fewer retirement benefits than they could have gotten had they bargained separately.
In March 2011, the inability of the NFL and the union to reach an agreement on pay caps and other issues resulted in a lockout, which was lifted on July 25 of that year when the parties reached a 10-year deal.
Judge James Loken, writing for the appeals panel, was not persuaded by the retirees’ claims that they were shut out of the haggling and suffered from it.
"The retired players had no reasonable expectation of a separate, prospective contractual relation with the NFL that would provide them greater player benefits than the NFL agreed to provide in the new CBA," he wrote.
Representing the union and other defendants was Andrew Tulumello, a partner in Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington. office. "We’re gratified by the court’s decision," Tulumello said.
Representing the retirees was Michael Hausfeld at Hausfeld LLP in Washington. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Contact Leigh Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.