Ezekiel Elliott lost the pivotal court battle that he needed on Thursday, as Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the jurisdiction of his lawsuit and injunction against the NFL’s six-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence policy are both invalid.
It’s a significant loss for the Dallas Cowboys running back, who had his six-game suspension reinstated by the NFL after Thursday afternoon’s ruling.
The court invalidated a September injunction from federal Judge Amos Mazzant.
Despite his case being struck down by the appeals court, Elliott has some legal life left, albeit not what his team was hoping for. Based on the court’s decision, he can seek a proper jurisdiction and re-file his lawsuit in the Southern District of New York. That’s the same turf where the case of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady crashed and burned in 2016, despite a ferocious effort by players union bulldog litigator Jeffrey Kessler.
Elliott’s attorney, Frank Salzano, released a statement late Thursday afternoon stating they are weighing their legal options: “We are currently exploring all of our legal options and will make a decision as to what is the best course of action in the next few days. Until that time, we have no further comment on the 5th circuit’s decision.”
This is the worst-case scenario for Elliott and makes it far likelier his case will fail quickly. It’s also the last legal avenue available if he takes it. Based on past cases, the battleground is both friendly to the NFL and has the precedent of striking down Brady’s case, which was also challenging the league’s disciplinary process based on challenging points under the collective-bargaining agreement.
The ruling also means Elliott is far likelier to serve a portion – or the entirety – of the NFL’s six-game suspension. It also means that the case filed by the Cowboys running back, which accuses the league of conspiring to twist its investigation to support a suspension, is far less likely to be heard.
The league has vehemently denied that accusation. Now, after its latest legal victory, it’s far less likely that denial will be tested in a federal court.
The Cowboys head into their bye week 2-3 overall. He is suspended up until Nov. 24, six days before Dallas faces the Washington Redskins.