Lawyers for Brian Flores, others can’t gather more evidence before decision on whether lawsuit will be sent to arbitration

NEW YORK — A judge on Thursday shortened the time it takes to rule on whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can rule on the merits of black coaches’ racial discrimination claims against the league and its teams, saying it’s a trial seems to be gathering more evidence is an attempt at “an illegal catch”.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said in a written ruling that attorneys for coaches Brian Flores, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton are unable to collect additional evidence from defendants to support their arguments that the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court remain in court should, rather than be submitted to arbitration.

“Since plaintiffs should know whether they have entered into other contracts or agreements that would affect their consent to arbitration, the court can only assume that they are attempting to embark on an improper fishing expedition,” Caproni wrote.

Still, the judge said the coaches’ attorneys could potentially argue that the proposed arbitrator was so biased against them that the motion for enforcement of arbitration should not be granted, but they don’t need a discovery to do so.

Flores, who was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in January and is now an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, filed the lawsuit in February, saying the league is “riddled with racism” despite publicly condemning him. The other coaches later joined the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages and class action status.

The NFL and six of its teams say the lawsuit they are maintaining is “baseless” and must go to arbitration, in which Goodell would be the arbitrator under terms set forth in employment contracts and the NFL’s bylaws.

Caproni wrote that in the past, courts have not allowed attorneys to collect evidence before deciding whether a case requires arbitration.

“An arbitration agreement is binding on the parties except to the extent that the agreement is invalid under state treaty law,” she wrote. “Therefore, the Court’s analysis of a request for enforcement of arbitration is generally limited to determining whether there is a valid arbitration agreement, whether a party has failed to perform its obligations under that agreement, and whether the agreement, properly interpreted, resolves the dispute at hand.” .”

Attorneys representing Flores, Douglas H. Wigdor and John Elefterakis, said in a statement that they are “confident that we will nullify the NFL’s efforts to bring this matter to private and confidential behind-closed-doors arbitration.”

“It is evident that the NFL is trying to hide behind this process and avoid public scrutiny of the claims of racial discrimination and retaliation we have made. If they are relying on their defense, they should have the trial played in court for the general public to see,” the attorneys said.

Attorneys for the NFL and its teams did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Lawyers for Brian Flores, others can’t gather more evidence before decision on whether lawsuit will be sent to arbitration

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