Michael Gaynor
Will Ray and/or Janay Rice sue the NFL?
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By Michael Gaynor
September 11, 2014

The issue is whether the NFL is entitled to add additional punishment to its sentences to players whenever it is moved to do so.

I'm not a fan of former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice and don't have any personal interest in whether he ever returns to play in the NFL.

That said, I wonder whether the NFL compounded its problems by meting out additional punishment to Ray Rice and even the threat of a lawsuit by the Rices may pave the way for his return.

The NFL created a huge potential problem for itself by failing to investigate the incident properly and handing down a sentence based on incomplete information.

The Rices married after both the incident and the sentence.

Double jeopardy prohibits a defendant from being tried again on the same or similar charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction.

Double jeopardy is un-American.

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: ":[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . .."

What the NFL has done was to give Ray Rice a much lighter sentence than he deserved, without obtaining the video of the incident, and. after the video became public, tried to correct its mistake by indefinitely suspending him.

The NFL's huge embarrassment is readily understandable.

The NFL is not the United States Government, so it's not bound by the Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy.

But in meting out additional punishment to Ray Rice on the basis of newly discovered evidence that it should have discovered before meting out its original punishment to Rice, it has done what the double jeopardy prohibition bars the United States Government from doing and doing so damaged not only Ray Rice, but his wife, Janay.

If the Rices sue the NFL, claiming it had a duty akin to double jeopardy and that claim is not dismissed as a matter of law, then a major subject of discovery in the case would be the NFL investigation itself.

Did the NFL have a duty to conduct a thorough investigation before sentencing Ray Rice to a two-game suspension?

Did the NFL have a right to add additional punishment to Ray Rice's sentence after the video surfaced?

Is the NFL liable to Ray Rice for damages resulting from the additional punishment it imposed?

Is the NFL liable to Janay Rice for damages resulting from the additional punishment it imposed?

The issue is NOT whether the NFL can punish spousal abuse by suspending a player or whether Ray Rice committed spousal abuse.

The issue is whether the NFL is entitled to add additional punishment to its sentences to players whenever it is moved to do so.

© Michael Gaynor

 

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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