Washington D.C. attorney general Karl A. Racine Thursday announced a new lawsuit against Pro Football Inc., which owns the Washington Commanders football team, for “implementing an illegal scheme to cheat District ticket holders out of their deposits for season tickets and use the money for its own purposes.”
This new lawsuit follows the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) separate lawsuit announced last week against the Commanders, team owner Dan Snyder, the NFL, and Commissioner Roger Goodell for “colluding to deceive District residents about an investigation into toxic workplace culture and allegations of sexual assault.”
Yes, the legal fees are going to be piling up for Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.
“Today’s announcement follows our recent lawsuit against the Commanders, Dan Snyder, NFL, and Roger Goodell, and is yet another example of egregious mismanagement and illegal conduct by Commanders executives who seem determined to lie, cheat, and steal from District residents in as many ways as possible,” Racine said in a statement.
“The Commanders’ arrogance and blatant disregard for the law is a slap in the face to District residents who have supported the team for decades. We deserve better, and today my office is taking action yet again to hold them accountable.”
Commanders Under Pressure To Sell
The twin lawsuits are part of the building pressure on Snyder to sell the franchise and he has been studying exactly that course of action.
OAG is the first enforcement authority to take action against the Commanders following a referral from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform which, in April 2022, sent a letter to several government entities sharing evidence of the Commanders’ business practices.
Those practices were painted as being “concerning.”
The Commanders responded to Thursday’s suit through a spokesman:
“The Team has not accepted security deposits for over 20 years in the case of premium tickets and over a decade in the case of suites, and we began returningvthem to season ticket holders as early as 2004,” the statement from the spokesman read. “In 2014, as part of a comprehensive review, Team management was instructed to send notices to over 1,400 customers with deposits and return all security deposits requested.
“Further, the team engaged an outside law firm and forensic auditors to conduct an extensive review of the team’s accounts which found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that
should have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue.”
Attorney General Lawsuit Allegations
According to the new lawsuit, the Commanders since 1996 sold premium seating tickets to fans, some of which required a deposit. The Commanders promised these ticket holders they would automatically get the deposits within 30 days of the contracts’ expiration. But in fact, the team held these funds.
The club then allegedly used the money for its own purposes. When ticket holders requested their deposits be returned, the Commanders “intentionally complicated the return process by imposing extra, burdensome conditions that were not previously adequately disclosed.”
The Commanders eventually returned some of the money to ticket holders. But, as of March 2022, they still allegedly held nearly $200,000 in unreturned security deposits.