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Saints fan files class action over bounty scandal suspensions

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference before the Super Bowl XLVI NFL football game in Indianapolis, Indiana February 3,
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference before the Super Bowl XLVI NFL football game in Indianapolis, Indiana February 3,

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A fan of the last-place New Orleans Saints has filed a $5 million class action against the NFL over Commissioner Roger Goodell's suspensions of several players and coaches connected to the team's bounty scandal.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Louisiana federal court by season-ticket holder David Mancina, claims the suspensions were "devastating" to the team's quality and reduced the value of Saints tickets.

Fans who purchased season tickets expected "that the Saints would be capable of competitively fielding a contending team comprised of the finest athletes, and the best coaches ... without dictatorial, unreasonable, vindictive, and unfounded, interference from the commissioner and the league, devoid of due process," the complaint said.

The Saints opened the season with four straight losses and are now 1-4 and in last place in the NFC South division.

In May, Goodell suspended four players, including star linebacker Jonathan Vilma, after the NFL found they promoted a program in which players were given cash for knocking opponents out of games. Head coach Sean Peyton and general manager Mickey Loomis also received suspensions.

Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The suspensions were overturned before the season by an arbitration panel, which ruled that Goodell could impose punishments if he could prove there was intent to injure.

Goodell eventually upheld Vilma's season-long ban and a four-game suspension for defensive end Will Smith but reduced two other suspensions for linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, and free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove.

Vilma is fighting his suspension in federal court.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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