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Packers DT Mike Pennel files lawsuit in Ohio federal court

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers defensive tackle Mike Pennel filed a lawsuit in an Ohio federal court against the NFL and the NFL Players Association as a result of an apparent second suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Pennel, who already was suspended for the first four games of this season, wants a judge to appoint a third arbitrator to hear his case and asked the court to put his appeal hearing on hold until that person is appointed.

In the suit, Pennel alleges that the arbitrator currently assigned to hear his case was "improperly assigned" and that the league and its management council "failed to abide by the arbitrator selection and assignment provisions" after Pennel received notice of a suspension on Nov. 8. Pennel, according to the suit, filed an appeal three days later. The appeal is scheduled to be heard on Dec. 6.

The NFL does not announce suspensions until all appeals have been heard, but given that it would be Pennel's second one, he would be forced to sit out 10 games.

Pennel is the second player to file suit against the league and the players' union. Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board regarding the 10-game suspension he's currently serving.

Pennel, a third-year pro who came into the league as an undrafted free agent, has played in the Packers' last seven games this season. He played 11 snaps on defense in Monday night's win over the Eagles.

Pennel's agents, Ken Sarnoff and Andy Simms, didn't return messages left on Tuesday.

Simms is based in Cleveland, which is the only apparent connection between Pennel and the state. However, the suit says Pennel filed it in Ohio because "on or about Aug. 7, 2016, while employed by the Green Bay Packers NFL franchise, Pennel worked as a professional football player in Canton, Ohio, which is within this District." That was the date of the canceled Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Packers and the Indianapolis Colts.

The complete complaint can be found on the Plain Dealer's website, Cleveland.com.