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Choupique 05-13-2010 10:23 PM

Saints lawsuit going to arbitration
Saints lawsuit going to arbitration
By BRETT MARTEL (AP) 9 hours ago

GRETNA, La. Former New Orleans Saints security director Geoffrey Santini withdrew his lawsuit against the club on Thursday because the team's lawyers are sending the matter to arbitration.

Santini's motion to dismiss the lawsuit stated that Saints attorneys waited more than a week after the lawsuit was initially filed to advise Santini they intended to invoke an arbitration clause in his employment contract rather than fight his civil lawsuit in district court.

In the lawsuit, which was filed April 30, Santini claimed the Saints attempted to cover up both the theft and improper distribution of prescription Vicodin pills at the team's facility.

Santini's lawyer, Donald Hyatt II, said going to arbitration blocks either side from publicly discussing the case.

For now, the move also at least temporarily blocks the public release of video and audio recordings that Santini said he made to protect himself and others who were participating in the alleged cover-up for fear of losing their jobs.

Hyatt has said the video shows the theft of Vicodin pills by a senior staff member who was later identified as linebackers coach Joe Vitt. The audio recordings Santini made allegedly caught team trainers Scottie Patton and Kevin Mangum discussing orders from general manager Mickey Loomis to forge entries in official prescription drug logs. The lawsuit alleged Loomis told the trainers to make the logs look as though no Vicodin had been stolen.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel denied the allegations when the lawsuit was filed and said Santini was a disgruntled former employee trying to squeeze the team for money.

Head coach Sean Payton also released a statement through the team saying he never stole or abused Vicodin after people familiar with the case identified him as a staff member described in the lawsuit as receiving an excessive number of pills.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the allegations and also identified Vitt as the person who allegedly used a key from Patton's office to steal Vicodin.

Some of the activities alleged in now withdrawn lawsuit would be criminal, including the theft of prescription drugs and attempts to hide those thefts.

I'm not defending anyone but Vicodin is somewhat like strong Advil.

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