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New Jersey judge calls unsportsmanlike conduct on NFL team owners

Many Americans love football. Football on Sundays, football on Mondays, football on Thursdays. Professional, college, high school. Most fans, however, probably are not thinking about the owners of professional teams and whether they conduct business ethically.

Unfortunately for the Minnesota Vikings, a New Jersey judge has handed down a ruling against the team’s owners. The judgment is part of ongoing litigation over a failed real-estate venture that took place more than 21 years ago. The judge ruled the owners committed fraud and were in violation of racketeering laws. The ensuing business litigation threatens to cost the Vikings owners a significant amount of money.

This fall, the Vikings owners were found guilty of stealing profits from two individuals related to an apartment complex in New Jersey. The most recent hearing before the New Jersey judge was scheduled to decide whether the team owners should have to pay the judgment now or whether the judge should hold off on awarding any damages until the case has gone through the appeals process.

How does this affect football? The question is unclear at this point. What has some people worried is that the judgment against the owners adds up to $84.5 million, plus a separate order to pay $15 million in attorney fees. With this large judgment looming over their heads, some are concerned a loss by the owners will result in a loss for the team. The Minnesota Vikings are in the midst of construction on a new $1 billion stadium. The team owners are required to pay an initial $50 million of the cost.

The issues surrounding the judgment are far from over. As this case shows, business litigation is a complex topic. Even when a dispute is unrelated to a person’s current business ventures, it can end up causing major problems if not handled correctly.

Source: Pioneer Press, “Vikings stadium: Wilfs might be required to secure $99.5 million in New Jersey lawsuit,” Brian Murphy, Dec. 12, 2013

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