FRISCO, Texas — The NFL has asked a federal appeals court to dismiss Ezekiel Elliott’s entire lawsuit in its bid to lift an injunction that blocked the star Dallas Cowboys running back’s six-game suspension over a domestic violence case in Ohio.
The league wrote in a filing Wednesday to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that the players’ union case filed on behalf of Elliott had resulted in "hopelessly doomed proceedings."
The three-judge panel requested arguments from both sides over U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant’s jurisdiction.
The Texas judge granted Elliott’s request for an injunction while the case plays out in federal court. The NFL asked the appeals court for an emergency stay of Mazzant’s ruling, and oral arguments are set for Monday.
The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations last summer with his girlfriend at the time. Prosecutors in Ohio didn’t pursue the case, citing conflicting evidence.
NFL attorneys cited a 2014 education case in Louisiana in which the 5th Circuit vacated an injunction and ordered the district court to dismiss all other claims.
"This Court has followed the same course many other times, correctly recognizing that there is no reason to prolong hopelessly doomed proceedings, and that cases in which federal courts cannot grant relief should be promptly dismissed," NFL attorneys wrote.
The league has argued that the NFL Players’ Association filed an improper lawsuit because an arbitrator had yet to rule on Elliott’s appeal. Harold Henderson rejected the appeal the same day that Mazzant heard arguments on the request for an injunction.
The NFLPA has countered that Mazzant had jurisdiction because Elliott exhausted his appeal before filing the lawsuit when Henderson rejected requests for the testimony of Goodell and his accuser, ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.
Elliott’s attorneys also argued that the NFL violated the labour deal by withholding key information from Goodell and Elliott’s representatives.
"At the time the petition was filed, the rulings of the arbitrator that were challenged under the fundamental fairness doctrine were definitive, final, and binding, all procedures and remedies had been exhausted, and there was nothing left for the NFLPA to do except brace for the imminent award," Elliott’s attorneys wrote.
According to the letter Elliott received informing him of the suspension last month, the NFL believed he used "physical force" three times in a span of five days in a Columbus, Ohio, apartment in July 2016 resulting in injuries to Thompson’s face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees.
Prosecutors in Columbus decided not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, but the NFL kept the investigation open. The league said its conclusions were based on photographs, text messages and other electronic evidence.
Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,631 yards rushing as a rookie, has 192 yards and a touchdown in three games this season. He will be eligible again Sunday when the Cowboys are at home against the Los Angeles Rams.