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Date: 04-17-2023

Case Style:

Vincent Porter v. National Football League Players Association

Case Number: 4:19-cv-13651

Judge: Gershwin A. Drain

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Genessee County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Ashley E. Racette, David L. Greenspan, Jeffrey L. Kessler, Jeffrey L. Kessler , Robert S. Pannullo, Fred K. Herrmann

Description: Flint, Michigan labor/employment lawyer represented Plaintiff wrongful termination and harassment.

"Vincent Porter was suspended from being an NFL agent by the National Football League Players Association ('NFLPA') after he was criminally indicted. He successfully appealed his suspension through arbitration and now brings state-law claims alleging that the NFLPA acted tortiously in suspending him and otherwise harassing him." Porter v. Nat'l Football

Appellant Vincent Porter is an NFL agent-or, more technically, a certified contract advisor licensed by the NFLPA. Under federal labor law and the collective-bargaining agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL, only agents certified by the NFLPA may represent players in negotiations with NFL teams. To be certified, prospective agents must agree to the NFLPA's Regulations Governing Contract Advisors (the "Regulations").[1] These Regulations govern agents' conduct and set out disciplinary and dispute-resolution procedures. They also prohibit agents from engaging in any conduct involving fraud or dishonesty.

That latter component of the Regulations became relevant to Porter in 2014, when he was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The charge was ultimately dismissed, and Porter entered into a deferred prosecution agreement for a charge of misprision. In response to all this, the NFLPA Committee on Agent Regulation and Discipline ("CARD") filed a disciplinary complaint against him and immediately suspended his contract-advisor certification.[2] The NFLPA also began independently investigating his conduct.

Porter appealed his suspension, denying that he had breached the Regulations. The NFLPA denied his request for reinstatement. The dispute went to arbitration in March 2016. After the hearing, but before the issuance of the arbitrator's decision, the criminal charge against Porter was dismissed. The arbitrator concluded that CARD had failed to sustain its burden in proving that Porter had engaged in conduct prohibited by the Regulations.

Porter alleges that, despite the result of arbitration, the NFLPA continued to harass him and interfere with his business. The NFLPA proceeded with its investigation into his conduct, including questioning the accuracy of sworn statements that he made while appealing his suspension. Porter also points to email correspondence between him and several NFLPA officials (as well as a failure to respond to emails) which he views as intentional attempts to prevent him from successfully performing as an agent.

Porter initially sued the NFLPA in Michigan state court in 2019. The NFLPA removed the case to federal court. Porter's amended complaint included five state-law counts: (1) tortious interference with a business expectancy; (2) tortious interference with a business relationship; (3) negligence; (4) breach of duty; and (5) breach of contract. The NFLPA moved to dismiss and to compel arbitration. In granting that motion, the district court held that Porter's claims were preempted by federal law. Specifically, the district court found preemption under § 9 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. (the "NLRA") and § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq. (the "LMRA").

Outcome: 04/17/2023 41 OPINION and ORDER Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's 34 MOTION to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss the First Amended Complaint or, in the Alternative, to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint for Failure to State a Claim, Signed by District Judge Gershwin A. Drain. (TMcg) (Entered: 04/17/2023)
04/17/2023 42 JUDGMENT Signed by District Judge Gershwin A. Drain. (TMcg) (Entered: 04/17/2023)

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