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Federal Court Vacates Tom Brady’s Four-Game Suspension by NFL

Kaplan Weiss LLP

In a decision and order published this morning, Federal Court Judge, Richard M. Berman, ruled in favor of Tom Brady and against the NFL, vacating Tom Brady’s four-game suspension imposed by the NFL in connection with his role in the alleged use of under-inflated footballs by the New England Patriots.

In reaching his decision, Judge Berman found that Tom Brady had inadequate notice of the possible discipline for the alleged offense, or that a four-game suspension could be imposed. Moreover, Judge Berman found that NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, improperly denied Tom Brady equal access to investigative files and the opportunity to examine certain witnesses.

Judge Berman Noted:

“It is the ‘law of the shop’ to provide professional football players with (advance) notice of prohibited conduct and of potential discipline. Any disciplinary program requires that individuals subject to that program understand, with reasonable certainty, what results will occur if they breach established rules. Because there was no notice of a four-game suspension in the circumstances presented here, Commissioner Goodell may be said to have dispensed his own brand of industrial justice. When the arbitrator’s words manifest an infidelity to this obligation, courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award.” (Decision and Order, pg. 25, internal citations and quotations omitted.)

Based on his review of the record and applicable legal authorities, Judge Berman overturned Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, effective immediately.

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