WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today 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.
“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,” said AG Racine. “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.”
OAG is the first enforcement authority to take action following a referral from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform which, in April 2022, sent a letter to several entities sharing evidence of the Commanders’ concerning business practices.
Since 1996, the Washington Commanders sold premium seating tickets to District fans, some of which required a substantial security deposit. The Commanders promised these ticket holders that they would automatically get the deposits within 30 days of the contracts’ expiration, but in fact, the team held on to these funds–sometimes for over a decade–and used the money for its own purposes. When ticket holders requested that their deposits be returned, the Commanders intentionally complicated the return process by imposing extra, burdensome conditions that were not previously adequately disclosed. A Commanders’ employee even alerted the teams’ corporate officers in 2009 that these practices violated the contracts’ terms, but the team continued to impose these additional obligations on consumers. As a result of these deceptive practices, the team illegally withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars from District residents.
The Commanders have returned some of the money to ticket holders but, as of March 2022, they still held nearly $200,000 in unreturned security deposits paid by District consumers. They have also forfeited thousands of dollars from District consumers’ security deposits and converted that money into revenue for the team, to use for its own purposes.
The Commanders’ misrepresentations regarding the return process for security deposits and omissions of details regarding the requirements for consumers to reclaim their deposits violate the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA).
With this lawsuit, OAG is seeking:
- A Court order to force the Commanders to stop these illegal practices and pay District ticket holders back what they are owed.
- Financial penalties for violations of the CPPA.
The full complaint is available here.
This case is being handled by Office of Consumer Protection Director Adam R. Teitelbaum, and Assistant Attorneys General Spencer Scoville and Nicole Hill.