Tom Brady's lawsuit vs. NFL to be argued in New York, not Minnesota

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

NEW YORK -- Tom Brady's lawsuit against the NFL, in which he wants his four-game suspension overturned, will be heard in New York instead of Minnesota.

The New England Patriots quarterback and the NFL Players Association filed their suit Wednesday in Minnesota. But the NFL already had filed papers Tuesday in New York, moments after announcing that commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension for Brady's involvement in the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game last January.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle ordered the transfer.

The judge wrote that he "sees little reason for this action to have been commenced in Minnesota at all." He noted that Brady plays in Massachusetts, the union is headquartered in Washington and the NFL in New York. Kyle added that "the arbitration proceedings took place in New York and the award was issued in New York."

Jeffrey Kessler, the lead attorney for Brady and the union, wasn't concerned about Judge Kyle's decision.

"(The change of venue) makes absolutely no difference to us," he told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. "We're still in a neutral forum for the first time in this case. Our arguments are compelling and we think when they are presented here (in New York), they will remain compelling."

Kessler added that the union will be filing a specific motion for an injunction Friday in the New York court, in addition to making some technical revisions to Wednesday's 54-page filing to allow for the change in court circuits.

Brady, through the union, will seek an injunction that will allow him to play for the Patriots until the case is final.

Judge Richard M. Berman will likely hear the NFLPA's motions. Berman, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, has been characterized as a "liberal judge."

Judge Berman would have to agree that Brady would have a reasonable chance of winning his case against the NFL to issue injunctive relief, according to several legal experts.

The union has previously had success in litigation in Minnesota, which is considered a labor-friendly state. Additionally, U.S. District Judge David Doty has heard many cases related to the NFL and has at times sided with the NFLPA, including when he overturned the suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

In a footnote, Kyle said the court "strongly suspects the union filed in Minnesota because it has obtained favorable rulings from this court in the past on behalf of its members.''

Kessler had said the lawsuit should be heard in Minnesota because it was related to a case involving Peterson's suspension last season. Kyle countered that the union made "only a fleeting attempt'' to link the Brady case to Peterson's. Kyle reasoned that the union's argument would mean, for example, any court that had heard a racial discrimination case against a large corporation would then hear every other racial discrimination case against that company.

"Venue simply cannot be predicated on such a thin reed,'' he said.

The move to consolidate the lawsuits involving Brady in New York is seen as an initial victory for the NFL in that the league was successful in choosing the jurisdiction where the arguments would be heard.

The NFL's action was part of what seemed to anger Patriots owner Robert Kraft in his Wednesday remarks, when he appeared to direct a salvo at NFL general counsel Jeff Pash in saying, "Now the league has taken the matter to court, which is a tactic that only a lawyer would recommend."

Information from's Joe McDonald, Mike Reiss and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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