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U.S. appeals court revives players' suit against NFL

By David Ingram

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit by the NFL Players' Association accusing the National Football League of unlawfully colluding to cap salaries in 2010.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel from a federal appeals court based in St. Louis said the association could move forward with the lawsuit in a lower federal court.

The ruling reversed a 2012 decision by the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

The players' association sued the NFL in January 2011, alleging that the league and team owners violated a collective bargaining agreement by trying in various ways to suppress player pay.

The two sides settled seven months later, but the players' association wants to reopen the lawsuit based on owners' comments in the media afterward. The players' association said the comments amounted to fresh evidence that team owners colluded to impose a secret, $123 million per-team salary cap for the 2010 season.

Teams were supposed to operate without a salary cap that season, the association said.

U.S. Circuit Judge Roger Wollman wrote for the appeals court that the players' association may go ahead with its attempt to reopen the August 2011 settlement by showing it was based on fraud, although he added that it faces a difficult task.

Attorneys for the NFL and for the players' association did not immediately return calls requesting comment.

The case is White, et al, v. National Football League, et al, 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-1480.

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