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The New Orleans Saints Bounty System

ESPN headlines recently have been bombarded with new developments of the New Orleans Saints “bounty system.” The most up to date news is that NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit against the NFL in Federal Court for violations of the arbitration agreement negotiated by both parties. The NFLPA filed suit on behalf of three of the players accused of participating in the bounty system. Another fourth player brought suit against the league and the Commissioner, Roger Goodell, separately.

The suit lists a number of breaches of the party’s collective bargaining agreement. One of the major issues the suit mentions is the Commissioner participated as a biased arbitrator in the arbitration hearing. The players believe the Commissioner had already made his decision prior to the hearing condemning the players with lengthy suspensions. The evidence comes from public statements made by the Commissioner about the punishments he was to assign the players involved. The NFLPA looks to have the judgments of the two previous arbitration hearings nullified, and request a new unbiased hearing.

Another major point of issue has to do with the investigation and the evidence that was presented at the hearings.  The NFLPA claims the NFL violated their labor agreement because the NFL failed to produce thousands of pages of documents crucial for the NFLPA’s defense. They say they were also denied access to important witnesses and that collective bargaining agreement says the commissioner may not sit as an arbitrator in the hearing. The NFL claims the NFLPA has no standing in court to bring suit because the collective bargaining agreement has an arbitration clause for these matters.

Arbitration is common alternative to litigation. An arbitration clause will usually be found in insurance, health, and employment contracts.  Like the Saints player’s contracts, almost all labor unions have arbitration clauses for all matters. When you sign an arbitration document or a contract or insurance policy with an arbitration clause buried within it, you release your ability to litigate an issue. If you were to file suit in court, the judge would dismiss your case and order arbitration proceedings. The problem with these clauses is that many times people don’t know that they even exist. Sometimes the time limit to bring the arbitration has passed and that party is stuck with no means of restitution.

When you enter into a contract, you need to be very careful that you know and understand all of its provisions. It is too easy for someone to skim a contract and sign the document without really understanding what is in it. Whether you are drafting the contract or simply signing one, you should have legal assistance to at least review the document.  Legal issues get very complicated and because contracts are unique, each being specific to the particular situation, this is especially so. If you are signing a binding contract call the lawyers at Lexstop Law Firm LLC, to help you sort through the hidden implications of the contract. We can help you draft documents and will negotiate on your behalf to see that your best interests are put first.  Like the New Orleans Saints players whose litigation suit may be thrown out due to the arbitration clause in the collective bargaining agreement, you need to know all of your options when entering a contract. Call the Lawyers at Lexstop by dialing 1 (888) 888-0020.  Visit our website at www.LEXSTOP.com.

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