U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson ruled Friday that two parts the legal case involving Kevin Williams and Pat Williams be sent back to state court, while dismissing a lawsuit brought on behalf of the two by the NFL Players Association.
The NFL brought the case to federal court due in large part to not wanting to fight out the four-game suspension given to the Williamses in state court. Minnesota is a "right to work" state and the courts often side with employees in such instances. In his ruling, Magnuson, dismissed all but two claims, but the case is still very much alive and now heading back where it started in state court.
The claims that remain involve Minnesota laws on when and how employers can require employees to submit to drug testing, as well as prohibiting an employer from disciplining an employee for use of a legal substance during non-working hours. The Williamses were suspended for testing positive for Bumetanide, a banned substance found in the product StarCaps. However, the biggest point of contention between the Williams Wall and the league is that the labeling on StarCaps didn't include Bumetanide and the league was aware that StarCaps contained the banned substance but failed to inform players.
The attorney for the Williamses said they will attempt to get a court date as soon as possible.
The judgment is viewed as a victory for the league, which was being sued by not only Pat and Kevin Williams but three New Orleans Saints players as well. Legal analysts believe the decision, while not decisive at this point, is a blow to the Williams' contention that the league misled them and it could be a step toward both having to serve four-game suspensions to start the 2009 season.
Williamses suffer legal blow, not done yet
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