Judge dismisses Jonathan Vilma's defamation suit versus Roger Goodell

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

A U.S. District Court Judge has dismissed Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation lawsuit against league commissioner Roger Goodell.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello announced on Thursday that U.S. District Court Judge Helen Berrigan has decided to dismiss New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma's defamation lawsuit, filed in May, against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Berrigan's decision was based on the fact that Vilma argued that Goodell made statements about him being involved in the Saints' bounty program in an "individual capacity," but he was suing Goodell as the commissioner and all statements made by Goodell were connection to the NFL's investigation. She said that Vilma's claim was preempted and should be dismissed.

She also said that she was not pleased with the league's process of investigation and charging players, though.

"While the Court is extremely disturbed by the fundamental lack of due process in Goodell's denying the players the identities of and the right to confront their accusers, that was substantially rectified later in the process," Berrigan added. "So while the process was initially procedurally flawed, the statements were ultimately found to have enough support to defeat the defamation claims."

Vilma's lawyer released a statement saying that he and Vilma are disappointed and that they don't believe the collective bargaining agreement give the commissioner a "license to misrepresent and to manufacture facts."

Vilma's season-long suspension was lifted by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, but he decided that he wanted to go ahead with the lawsuit, even though Goodell filed a motion to have it dismissed in July.

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