SBD/April 19, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLCA Demands NFLPA Counsel Berthelsen Recuse Himself From Current Litigation

National Football League Coaches Association Exec Dir David Cornwell demanded NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelsen recuse himself from the litigation between the two groups, in a letter sent today and obtained by SportsBusiness Journal. Cornwell alleges in the letter that Berthelsen violated his fiduciary duties to the NFLCA. “You have breached many of your ethical obligations and legal duties to the NFLCA,” the letter states. “The lawsuit filed by the NFLPA against the NFLCA raises serious ethical and legal problems for you.” The NFLPA this week sued the coaches group, saying the NFLCA owes the union $650,324.88 and that Cornwell was never properly elected. In the letter today, Cornwell alleges that many of the allegations in the lawsuit stemmed from privileged discussions Berthelsen had as general counsel to the NFLCA. He also asks for a detailed accounting of the alleged debt. For many years, the two groups operated arm in arm. In fact, Cornwell’s letter alleges that Berthelsen wrote the NFLCA constitution. But a falling out began last year when the NFLCA filed an amicus brief on behalf of the NFLPA during the lockout, and many coaches protested the move. Cornwell was named the NFLCA Exec Dir weeks after he sent to agents a blistering memo attacking NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith. The NFLCA has yet to file its response to the NFLPA lawsuit, which was filed in the DC Superior Court. Berthelsen did not reply to requests for comment on Cornwell’s letter.
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