NEW ORLEANS — A federal court on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order in the case of a Dallas Cowboys running back who has been seeking to overturn a suspension by the NFL amid domestic-violence allegations after a New Orleans appeals court had sided with the NFL.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York's order paved the way for Ezekiel Elliott to play in this weekend's game against the San Francisco 49ers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Previously, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had ruled in favor of the NFL's appeal in a lawsuit filed by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Elliott following a six-game suspension order.
Ezekiel Elliott | Wikimedia Commons
The 5th Circuit case was heard by Judges Edward Prado, Jennifer Elrod and James Graves.
The 5th Circuit had ruled 2-1 to set aside an injunction from the US. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas allowing Elliott to play. It had also ordered a district court in Texas to dismiss Elliott’s case.
Graves cast the dissenting vote.
Elrod and Prado had said that the mechanisms in place for collective bargaining between the NFL and NFL Players Association, the union representing the league’s players, hadn’t been completely exhausted.
Moreover, the majority had noted that the league and union had contracted for an arbitrator to reach a decision, which had not been offered when the lawsuit was filed.
“At the time the NFLPA filed the complaint, it was possible the arbitrator could have issued a final decision that was favorable to Elliott,” the majority wrote. “Elliott cannot show it was futile to wait for a final decision simply because he believed the arbitrator would issue an unfavorable ruling.”
Because there was no final decision, the majority said that Elliott hadn’t exhausted all possible remedies under the collective-bargaining agreements.
Further, the majority had concluded “that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction when it issued the preliminary injunction, vacates and remands with instructions to dismiss.”
The 5th Circuit majority had overturned the district court’s preliminary injunction and remanded the case.
In casting the dissenting vote, Graves had maintained that the suit was not premature. He had written that the union alleged that the league violated the collective bargaining agreement when information was withheld from representatives for Elliott and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Graves also had noted that arbitrators, as a result, had incomplete information.
“Also, as the NFL is unable to show a likelihood of success on the merits or any irreparable injury for purposes of a stay, I would deny the motion for stay,” Graves had written in dissenting. “Moreover, the maintenance of the status quo is an important consideration in granting a stay.”
Graves had noted that the “status quo” would be Elliott on the field for the Cowboys until the case is sorted out in court.
Goodell suspended Elliott in August following a lengthy investigation that found that Elliott had physical confrontations with a woman in 2016. Elliott was not charged in the incident.