NEW ORLEANS -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has filed a motion to dismiss defamation claims made against him by suspended New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma in connection with the league's bounty investigation.
The motion filed Thursday comes in response to claims Vilma made in a lawsuit filed in May in federal court in New Orleans.
Vilma has claimed that his suspension is without merit and that Goodell has made false public comments that have damaged Vilma's reputation and hurt his ability to continue to make a living by playing football and through related endorsement deals.
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Goodell's motion says Vilma's claims are barred by dispute resolution procedures laid out by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.
The motion also says Vilma's claim would fail under a Louisiana law that protects statements about matters of public importance.
An NFL source explained the league's stance on Vilma's lawsuit to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.
"The principal argument made for dismissal is that the claims against commissioner Goodell are 'preempted' under federal labor law and therefore must be dismissed," the source said. "Under federal law, if resolution of a state law claim requires interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement, the claim is preempted and must be decided, pursuant to federal law, by the dispute resolution procedures prescribed by the collective bargaining agreement. The underlying policy rationale is that a CBA should be governed by a uniform body of law rather than by 50 states' respective interpretations of state law.
"We have also argued that the claim is barred by the 'no-suit' provision of the CBA, which bars lawsuits by NFL players against the league. In the alternative, we have argued that the claim is governed by the 'anti-SLAPP provision of Louisiana law,' which provides additional levels of procedural protection to public statements on matters of public importance."