Judge denies NFL's motions to dismiss Jon Gruden's lawsuit, move it to arbitration

LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge ruled in favor of previous Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden on 2 movements Wednesday, opening the possibility of a jury trial on his “tortious interference” claim that the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell selectively dripped Gruden’s e-mails to require his elimination on Oct. 11.

Judge Nancy L. Allf rejected the NFL’s movement to oblige arbitration in addition to the league’s movement to dismiss the case outright. The match will now go to trial unless a settlement is reached. Allf offered no timeline, however, for the next case.

The NFL stated in a declaration provided to several media outlets that it would appeal.

“We believe Coach Gruden’s claims should have been compelled to arbitration, and we will file an appeal of the Court’s determination. The Court’s denial of our motion to dismiss is not a determination on the merits of Coach Gruden’s lawsuit, which, as we have said from the outset, lacks a basis in law and fact and proceeds from a false premise — neither the NFL nor the Commissioner leaked Coach Gruden’s offensive emails.”

Gruden remained in participation as his lawyer, Adam Hosmer-Henner of McDonald Carano, made the oral arguments while outdoors counsel Kannon Shanmugam argued on behalf of the NFL.

“I’m just going to let the process take care of itself,” Gruden stated upon leaving the courtroom. “It’s good to be back in Vegas. I’m going to see some friends tonight.

“Go Raiders.”

Gruden was asked if he was looking forward to the discovery process, which could lead to the release of leaguewide incriminating emails found in the workplace investigation of the Washington NFL franchise now called the Commanders.

“The procedure will all look after itself,” Gruden said.

While the NFL argued that arbitration was necessary because of his contract with the Raiders, Gruden’s legal team countered that after resigning as coach and taking a settlement from the Raiders, he was no longer a league employee and, therefore, no longer bound to arbitration.

Judge Allf agreed, saying she was “worried” with Goodell having sole power as a potential arbiter.

Gruden initially filed suit on Nov. 12 in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada. He had resigned as coach on Oct. 11 after emails were leaked that included racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language that was “not fit to be duplicated in a public courtroom,” Shanmugam said.

Gruden’s suit alleges that the NFL leaked his emails, which had been in the league’s possession since June 2021, to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in October in an effort to “damage Gruden’s credibility and require him out of his task,” Hosmer-Henner said in a November statement.

“There is no description or reason for why Gruden’s e-mails were the only ones revealed out of the 650,000 e-mails gathered … or for why the e-mails were held for months prior to being launched in the middle of the Raiders’ season,” the statement said.

Hosmer-Henner intimated Wednesday that Goodell held the emails and called the Raiders and threatened to release more if the team did not fire Gruden.

“Ask the NFL,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN at the time. “They have all the responses.”

Gruden was the Raiders’ coach from 1998 to 2001 prior to training the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2002 to ’08 and beating the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. After that, he functioned as an expert for ESPN’s Monday Night Football from 2009 to ’17.

Davis employed Gruden to return as coach of the Raiders in January 2018 with a 10-year, $100 million agreement.

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