In an opinion this evening, Judge Failla denied a motion from the NFL Players Association (“NFLPLA”), on behalf of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, to preliminarily enjoin his six-game suspension arising from a domestic violence incident.
Judge Failla ruled that the NFLPA was unlikely to ultimately prove that the arbitral proceedings leading to the suspension were so unfair as to void the outcome. She further found the NFLPA could not show sufficient “irreparable harm” to warrant injunctive relief, because the harm to Elliott was speculative:
To support the notion that missed games constitute irreparable injury, the NFLPA points out that an average career in the NFL is “short and precarious.” Even so, just as in other professions, future economic injuries such as lost profits are compensable through monetary awards. And any individual honors Elliott might attain absent suspension [such as Pro Bowl selection] depend on countless variables — such as the Cowboys’ overall offensive performance, his opponents’ defensive performance, and Elliott’s health — that together render this alleged harm far too speculative to justify injunctive relief.
She also found that any harms to the NFLPA and Elliott were “counterbalanced by the harms identified by” the NFL:
Having negotiated with the NFLPA over the terms of a particular CBA, the NFL has an interest in obtaining the benefit of its bargain — an interest that might well be eroded if courts such as this one were permitted to micromanage the disciplinary decisions of the Commissioner. What is more, the NFL has a critical interest in ensuring player compliance with the [Personal Conduct Policy], particularly in the area of combating off-the-field misconduct. Indeed, all parties to this litigation are keenly aware of recent criticisms of the NFL’s efforts to redress and combat domestic abuse by NFL players. Put simply, Elliott’s personal concerns, while not insubstantial, are outweighed by the broader, league-wide concerns . . . .
Judge Failla put the ruling on hold for 24 hours to “afford the parties an opportunity to consider their appellate options.”