Try as they might, NFL officials are having a difficult time putting the controversial missed call in last year’s NFC championship game behind them. On Monday, a judge in Louisiana ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and three officials from the game can be questioned under oath as part of a fraud lawsuit filed brought by a Louisiana attorney on behalf of New Orleans Saints ticket holders.
Late in the fourth quarter of the Jan. 20 game, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis well before the pass from quarterback Drew Brees arrived. Had the officials called a penalty on the play, New Orleans would have been well situated to score a game-clinching touchdown. Instead, the Saints kicked a field goal and eventually lost the game in overtime.
During a status hearing in the case Monday, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Nicole Sheppard ruled that Goodell and the three game officials would have to come to New Orleans for depositions sometime in September. Last week, a Louisiana state appeals court panel unanimously upheld Sheppard’s decision to allow the lawsuit against the NFL to proceed.
“I’m ecstatic about it; we’ve waited a long time for this,” attorney Tony LeMon said after Monday’s ruling, per WAFB.
“You also have to look at the fact that four of the seven officials were from the L.A. area, and you have to weigh all that,” LeMon said in discussing how he would go about proving his case.
NFL attorney Gladstone Jones said league is still deciding whether to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to stop the lawsuit.
Described by the Advocate as a “Saints superfan,” LeMon is asking for $75,000 in damages, a comparatively low amount that will keep the case from getting moved to federal court. By having the case remain in local courts, he is ensured of getting a judge who is elected and not appointed, and “what better way for a Louisiana judge to ensure reelection in Louisiana than to exercise discretion in a way that supports Louisiana interests?” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted Monday.
A federal lawsuit filed against the league was dismissed in January, when a judge denied a demand that the league replay the game.
Should he win his case, LeMon says he will donate the money to a charity created by former Saints player Steve Gleason to promote ALS awareness.
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