The New Orleans Saints Bounty scandal is officially entering the courtroom. Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has filed a defamation lawsuit against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell featuring eleven separate claims for relief.
According to the complaint (PDF), is seeking to recover damages for comments made by Goodell in which, while speaking publicly about Saints executives, coaches and players, "in relation to the Bounty scandal in relation to purported efforts designed to injure opposing players, made public statements concerning Vilma which were false, defamatory and injurious to Vilma’s professional and personal reputation."
Vilma is asking for compensatory damages, punitives damages, attorneys fees and interest on the damages.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of Wednesday's news that the NFL would consider releasing some of the evidence in the case. The NFLPA's primary complaint about the league handling of the Bounty scandal has been related to its reported lack of full disclosure of evidence and this suit includes that accusation.
The NFLPA has claimed a right to view this evidence in their attempts to protect their membership. Although the union wants to protect any players injured due to the reported Bounty scandal, they also owe a fiduciary duty to the accused players given that they are also union members. This lawsuit may be the quickest way to force the league's hand in turning over evidence.