The NFL hopes to secure a dismissal of the Rams-Saints NFC Championship lawsuit because (duh) it wants to win and (more importantly) it wants to shield Commissioner Roger Goodell and multiple game officials from answering tough questions under oath. The NFL, as a fallback proposition, wants to ensure that Goodell and other league employees won’t have to travel to Louisiana to be questioned.
The 34-page brief filed by the NFL with the Louisiana Supreme Court indicates in a footnote that a motion will be filed with the trial court seeking an order allowing the witnesses to be questioned where they reside, and not where the lawsuit is pending. In support of the argument, the NFL points out that the witnesses “have received numerous threats to their physical safety from self-professed Saints fans.”
The local hard feelings against Goodell date back to 2012, when the bounty punishments derailed the Saints’ entire season via the suspension of coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The NFC Championship debacle dusted off that acrimony, with the rancor extending to the officials responsible for the missed call of pass interference with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Courts have broad discretion to determine the location of depositions. Usually, courts require the lawyers to travel to where the witnessess live and/or work. Plenty of courts expect individuals who have subjected themselves to the jurisdiction of the state to give deposition testimony where the events occurred, and where the case is pending. The fact that Goodell and the three game officials are named defendants in the case could be a factor in a decision to make them come to Louisiana.
Although the NFL wants the issue of deposition testimony to become moot through the dismissal of the entire case, the NFL also will be fighting to ensure that Goodell would be questioned in New York City, and that the three game officials involved in the case would likewise testify where they live.