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A U.S. appeals court on Thursday reinstated a lawsuit filed
against the NFL by former players who claim the league illegally plied them with
powerful prescription painkillers to keep them on the field.

The lawsuit is not superseded by labor agreements between players and
teams Youth
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, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously.

The NFL had argued that the players failed to exhaust the grievance
procedures in those agreements. U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San
Francisco had dismissed the lawsuit in 2014, saying the collective bargaining
agreement was the appropriate forum to resolve the players' claims.

The 9th Circuit panel rejected that conclusion, saying the lawsuit had
nothing to do with the collective bargaining agreements. It overturned Alsup's
decision.

"As pled, the players' claims do not constitute a dispute over the rights
created by, or the meaning of, the CBAs," 9th Circuit Judge Richard Tallman
wrote. "Their claim is that when the NFL provided players with prescription
drugs, it engaged in conduct that was completely outside the scope of the
CBAs."

The players say the NFL did not warn them about the long-term consequences of
the drugs, which they say have left them with chronic health problems. The
plaintiffs include Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent Mark
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, former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon and
former San Francisco 49ers center Jeremy Newberry.

The 9th Circuit sent the case back to Alsup for additional hearings. The
judges said they had no opinion on the merits of the players' claims and noted
they could still be dismissed on other grounds.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league still expects the lawsuit to be
thrown out.

"We have strong arguments on the merits of the case, which we have litigated
successfully already," McCarthy said in an email. "Every claim brought by every
plaintiff was dismissed for a variety of reasons, and we expect the same
outcome."

The players say they received large amounts of opioids, anti-inflammatory
medications and local anesthetics mostly without written prescriptions. They
were given pills in manila envelopes that often had no directions or labeling
and were told to take everything inside, according to the lawsuit.

"Our clients are thrilled with the 9th circuit's unanimous decision
reinstating their lawsuit," said Steven Silverman, an attorney for the players.
"They've shown tremendous perseverance."

Carolina is a long shot to make the
playoffs. Coach Bill Peters is still looking for a strong finish for the
Hurricanes.

Justin Faulk scored midway through the second period, and Carolina beat the
Washington Capitals 4-1 on Friday night to remain in the postseason race.

It was the fourth win in five games for the Hurricanes Authentic
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, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2009.
Carolina must win its final four games while Florida and New Jersey lose their
remaining games in regulation to play beyond the regular season.

Asked if the playoffs were a realistic goal, Peters answered tersely: ”No.”
But Peters believes there are genuine incentives for his team.

”You’ve got to play,” he said. ”These guys are pros. You’re paid to
play.”

Metropolitan Division-leading Washington had won five in a row. Michal Kempny
scored his first goal with the Capitals after he was acquired in a February
trade with Chicago.

”We’ve been playing great the last month,” Capitals forward Devante
Smith-Pelly said. ”I don’t want to say this was expected, but a game like this
maybe was going to happen eventually. It was probably better tonight than
Sunday.”

Washington visits Pittsburgh on Sunday, and the teams have a long
history.

”Overall, obviously we don’t like those guys,” Smith-Pelly said. ”It’s a huge
game. We’ll be back.”

Carolina goaltender Scott Darling stopped 20 shots, and Braden Holtby had 26
saves for Washington.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz thought his team was simply outplayed.

”This league is way too good if you have a little bit of an off-night or
you’re not on your `A’ game Authentic
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, this league can humble you in a very hard
way and a quick way,” Trotz said. ”We didn’t have enough invested. We didn’t
have enough guys pulling on the rope.”

Kempny put the Capitals in front at 2:35 of the second, but Carolina’s Derek
Ryan quickly responded. He beat Holtby for his 14th goal at 3:15.

”There’s pride on the line,” Ryan said. ”We’re not quite in the playoff race.
We’re not eliminated, but we realize where we’re at. We’re just continuing to
play our game. We’re not thinking about it. We have four games, so we’re going
to make those games count.”

Faulk’s eighth goal of the season put the Hurricanes ahead to stay at 11:43.
It was Faulk’s first goal since he scored three times in a 7-3 victory over the
Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 13.

Sebastian Aho’s 28th goal at 14:36 of the third made it 3-1, and Brock McGinn
added an empty-netter at 17:50.

NOTES: Trotz said he enjoyed the story of emergency goalie Scott Foster’s
outstanding performance for Chicago on Thursday night. Trotz doesn’t know who
the Capitals’ emergency goalies are. ”I just know that we have them,” Trotz
said. ”Someone has a phone book with numbers. If you need a goalie, you start
phoning. … I’d like to meet them Youth
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, just not on our bench.” … Washington F Lars
Eller played in his 600th career game. . Capitals F T.J. Oshie, who had an
assist on Kempny’s goal, logged just 14 minutes of playing time, his lowest
since Dec. 30. Trotz said Oshie was being checked for an injury, but wouldn’t
comment on its specifics. … Carolina D Jaccob Slavin had two assists.

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host New York Rangers on Saturday

Capitals: Visit Pittsburgh on Sunday

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