AAF 2019: Two players sue league alleging they were misled and defrauded
The class-action suit seeks damages after the league's sudden shutdown last week
Two former AAF players are suing the league in a class-action complaint in the wake of its shutdown last week. Acting individually and on behalf of other players, Birmingham Iron punter Colton Schmidt and Orlando Apollos linebacker Reggie Northrup allege they were misled and defrauded when AAF control owner Tom Dundon halted operations after eight weeks of play. Dundon and AAF CEO Charlie Ebersol are two individual defendants named in the suit.
The complaint, filed in the Superior Court of California, seeks damages for: breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, failure to pay wages in violation of labor code, and fraud, among others. The class representatives are seeking the counsel of Boris Treyzon of the law firm, Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo LLP.
"We are proud of the players who decided to stand up for their rights. Our clients stand ready to perform the obligations required by the terms of their contract and demand that the league and its' backers do the same. " said attorneys for the class representatives Boris Treyzon and Jonathon Farahi in a released statement.
Additionally, Treyzon told CBSSports.com that his clients are entitled to damages because they upheld their end of the AAF player contracts, which are for three years and $250,000.
"There is a basic honesty part," Treyzon said. "If you're going to sign [the players] to a three-year contract, there's an implied promise. If you shut it down eight weeks after you start, that indicates, among other things, that you don't have the backing to fulfill that promise."
Numerous AAF sources, from coaches to support staff, also told CBSSports.com in the past week that they were working on the belief that the league would be supported for the next three years or so.
"These players are in prime of their lives," Treyzon said. "They're seeking to elevate their standing. and then the rug gets pulled out from under them."
Treyzon also noted that the non-guaranteed contracts is valid only if termination is performance based.
"It's not true that the contracts are non-guaranteed," Treyzon continued. "Players can be cut for performance, they cannot be cut because the guys didn't have the financial backing."
The AAF has not yet officially responded to a request for comment.
In late March, Dundon told USA Today Sports that if a deal could not be reached between the AAF and the NFLPA over the use of practice squad players, he would consider folding the Alliance. Though Week 8 of the AAF season went forward as planned, Dundon then said the following Monday that he would make a decision regarding the league's future in the coming days. On Tuesday, Dundon shut down operations and let go of every player. Many football operations personnel were let go the following day.
Dundon, who also owns the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL, became the control owner and the chairman of the AAF's Board in February when he promised to infuse $250 million into the start-up league. As a result, he was able to make executive decisions regarding the league's future. To date, Dundon has provided roughly $70 million in cash to the AAF. However, many vendors have reportedly not been paid for their services for the AAF.
Earlier this week, Former Birmingham Iron executive James Roberson Jr. sued the AAF in another class-action complaint directed at Dundon for allegedly violating federal law. Roberson's suit aims to "recover wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, medical expenses and accrued holiday and vacation pay for the 60 working days following class members' respective terminations, as well as pension and 401(k) contributions, which he claims Alliance never paid."
Another AAF source told CBSSports.com this week that they also had not received accrued holiday and vacation pay that they were promised.
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