Terry McDonough and family file lawsuit against Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and others

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The NFL's secret, rigged, kangaroo court can only hop so far.

Former Cardinals executive Terry McDonough and multiple family members have filed suit against Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and others over last year's P.R. statement issued after McDonough made his arbitration claim against the team. The new lawsuit is specifically crafted to avoid any argument by the NFL that the claims should go to arbitration.

On Friday, an arbitrator ruled that the Cardinals must pay McDonough $3 million for the false and malicious statements made in the press release. These new claims fall beyond the boundaries of the arbitration claim — and, presumably, beyond the ability of the NFL to force the case out of open court.

The plaintiffs are McDonough, his wife, and his daughter. The defendants are Bidwill, the Cardinals, the P.R. firm of Counterpoint Strategies, P.R. executive Jim McCarthy, the law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy, and lawyer Donald Peder Johnson.

The lawsuit alleges that McCarthy, Bidwill, and the law firm sought to "dig up dirt" on the McDonough family in order to discredit McDonough after he made a legal claim against the Cardinals.

From paragraph 66 of the civil complaint: "During his first meeting with Johnsen and Bidwill. McCarthy stated that it was his objective to find information about Terry McDonough that would support allegations of domestic violence, rampant infidelity, illicit drug use, drunk driving and other unlawful activities."

The eventual statement attributed to McCarthy accused McDonough "extreme domestic violence" against his wife, and that he "abandoned" his daughter and "cut her off financially." The NFL's arbitration process concluded that these were lies, told with actual malice.

The lawsuit includes a defamation claim by McDonough against the P.R. firm and McCarthy, and against the law firm and Johnsen. (Those parties fall beyond the reach of the NFL's mandatory arbitration clause.) McDonough's wife and daughter claim defamation by all defendants. (These family members are not parties to the agreement requiring arbitration.)

The plaintiffs also make claims against the same defendants for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Again, McDonough sues everyone but Bidwill and the Cardinals. His wife and daughter sue everyone.

The lawsuit was filed in Arizona state court. Because Bidwill is a resident of Arizona, the defendants will not be able to remove the case to federal court, where corporate defendants and the rich/powerful generally get a better shake.

Unlike the NFL's arbitration process, which is obsessed with secrecy, many facts regarding this case will become public record. Indeed, there's a good chance that much of the arbitration process (e.g., deposition transcripts and the transcript of the arbitration hearing) will become public, too.