As expected, the NFL has officially argued that the wrongful termination lawsuit filed in September by Jim Trotter should be thrown out of court.
Via A.J. Perez of FrontOfficeSports.com, the NFL filed on Friday night a motion to dismiss the action, along with a 26-page legal brief making the case that, in the NFL’s opinion, Trotter has no case.
Although the NFL’s paperwork calls the failure to renew Trotter’s contract a “routine and sound business decision,” the core argument is that, even if everything Trotter alleges is true, there has been no violation of the law.
The document contains the usual legalese and mumbo jumbo. The crux of the case goes like this: Trotter claims that the NFL didn’t offer him a new contract because he was viewed as a troublemaker regarding the absence of Black employees and managers in the NFL Media newsroom, and the NFL claims that the law does not provide him with an avenue for relief, even if his allegations are true.
The league is trying to win the case at this stage so that it can avoid the discovery process, which will consist of sworn testimony from — and aggressive questioning of — people like Commissioner Roger Goodell (who was questioned about representation issues in the newsroom twice by Trotter at Super Bowl press conferences), Bills owner Terry Pegula (who allegedly made a racially insensitive remark), and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (who allegedly made a similar comment).
The NFL has to deal with this case in court because Trotter’s contract did not contain a clause requiring him to submit any and all disputes to arbitration under the auspices of Goodell himself, like many NFL employment contracts do. And so, to avoid (or at least to defer) a full reckoning, the NFL will make every possible argument at every possible turn aimed at forcing Trotter to prove his case, and presumably at limiting his access to documents or witnesses who could make that effort easier for Trotter.
At some point, they’ll likely try to turn the tables and make it about Trotter, especially if they can muster any shred of plausible evidence that would support such an attack.
That’s how cases like this usually go, when someone dares to sue a major company over wrongful employment practices. Deny, delay, and eventually destroy any and all arguments the employee is making.
Then, if all else fails, make the plaintiff an offer he won’t refuse in order to avoid the sunlight of open court and the disinfectant of a jury verdict.