SBD/July 23, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Coaches Association Suing Two NFLPA Officers And Former General Counsel

The NFL Coaches Association is directly suing NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir Clark Gaines, NFLPA Dir of Finance Charles Ross, and former NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen as part of the ongoing legal dispute between the two parties. The NFLCA last week also sued Amalgamated Bank alleging that, at the NFLPA's request, the bank has declined to release the coaches’ association’s funds. The NFLCA is seeking damages of $958,834.57 in addition to attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses. The NFLCA also is requesting a separate trial to determine Amalgamated’s liability. The NFLPA sued the NFLCA in April to prevent the group from tapping its bank account, claiming a debt of $650,324.88. The NFLPA also questioned the validity of the NFLCA's decision to hire David Cornwell, a union critic, in February as the new Exec Dir. The NFLCA countersued and, late last week, filed the latest rounds of lawsuits, claiming the debt was incurred without the authorization of the NFLCA, and was used to further union needs. The NFLPA essentially ran the coaches' group from ‘05 until Cornwell’s election, though the lawsuit filed last week said Berthelsen on April 9 “claimed that DeMaurice Smith, who is the current Executive Director of the Players Association, was the rightful Executive Director of the Coaches Association and that Mr. Smith had been Executive Director of the Coaches Association since Mr. Upshaw passed away (in 2008).” Berthelsen recently resigned from the NFLPA after a lengthy career. The lawsuit maintains Berthelsen, Gaines and Ross had a conflict of interest by acting as officers of both the NFLPA and NFLCA. The complaint alleges Gaines directed the coaches group’s affairs from ‘05 through early ‘12. The complaint alleges Ross directed the financial affairs of the NFLCA from ‘05 through early this year. The NFLPA and Berthelsen could not immediately be reached for comment. The NFLCA says in the lawsuit it cannot function properly because of the inability to tap its funds, which total $308,509.69. The coaches are represented by Cornwell's new law firm, Gordon & Rees.
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