Archives

Coaches

Day in Court

Depth Chart

Game Preview

Home

Links

Roster

Schedule

Tickets

Transactions

Court Rejects Verdict

A California state appeals court on Nov. 17, 2006 rejected a juryís $34.2 million award to the Raiders over accusations that Alameda County and Oakland officials falsely promised a sold-out stadium to lure the team back to Oakland.

The ruling stems from a 2003 trial between the NFL franchise and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Inc., a nonprofit commission established in the mid-1960s to operate the Coliseum complex. The commission reportedly was dissolved after the Raiders returned from Los Angeles in 1995 and replaced by a joint-powers authority involving Oakland and Alameda County.

In that trial, the Raiders claimed they were victims of fraud by both Coliseum Inc. and city and county officials. The team said it was told repeatedly by the public agencies that all Raiders tickets for the 1995 season had been sold, when in fact they were not.

The Raiders sought more than $1 billion from the jury for lost profits and opportunities. Although the jury agreed that the Raiders had been lied to, it did not believe the team lost more than $1 billion as a result.

The jury ruled the team should get $34 million in damages, an award that reportedly increases by $3.4 million annually until paid.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento said in a 2-1 ruling on Nov. 17 that the case never should have gone to trial because a year after the suspected fraud took place, the team signed a new agreement with the Coliseum Authority.

That agreement reaffirmed the original agreement but also gave the Raiders new benefits.

Under California law, people cannot sue for fraud if they change the terms of the agreement that caused the fraud to their benefit.

The controversial deal, signed in 1995 and renegotiated a year later, reportedly gave the Raiders a $53 million loan, $10 million for a training complex and $100 million to renovate the Coliseum, which is shared by Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics.

The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995 after playing the previous 13 seasons in Los Angeles. Raiders managing general partner Al Davis reportedly claimed during testimony in the 2003 trial that he wouldn't have signed the 16-year lease Aug. 7, 1995 to play in Oakland without the guarantee of sellouts, and he would have relocated the franchise to Baltimore instead.

In the 2003 trial, jurors reportedly determined the $34.2 million damage figure by calculating the difference between actual or projected seat and luxury suite sales from 1995 through 2005 and what the Raiders would have received from 44,700 seats and 84 luxury suites - sales figures announced in a Coliseum board press release July 20, 1995.

The jury rejected the team's claim that it should be paid as though every seat in the 62,500-seat stadium would have been sold through the 2010 season, when the Raiders' current lease expires. The jury also rejected a claim by the team to be awarded damages for declining value of the franchise.

Attorneys for the city of Oakland and Alameda County claimed that any attendance flop should be partly blamed on pricey tickets and poor performances.

The Raiders have had only three winning seasons (2000, 2001, 2002) since returning to Oakland.

Coliseum officials also argued the teamís owners got richer by returning to Oakland and that Davis was told up front where ticket sales stood when he signed the initial agreement.

Raiders general counsel Jeff Birren reportedly said the team was considering an appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Contributing:
C.C. Times, The Mercury News
& Oakland Tribune

Updated: 11-18-2006

Courting Money
The Raiders must wait at least another year before seeking payment from Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Inc. of a $34 million judgment awarded the team, a judge ruled March 15, 2004. Sacramento (Calif.) Superior Court Judge Richard K. Park said that the commission doesn't have to pay the team until the court rules on a joint appeal (expected to take place in 2005), according to published reports.

Park also ruled against the teamís claim for reimbursement of attorney fees during the six-year court battle. Officials reportedly estimated those fees between $10 million and $15 million.

The rulings come a month after Coliseum attorneys asked Park to grant a waiver on payment, claiming the commission is broke. The commission, a nonprofit panel established in the mid-1960s to operate the Coliseum complex, was dissolved after the Raiders returned from Los Angeles and replaced by a joint-powers authority involving Oakland and Alameda County.

In August 2003, jurors found that Coliseum officials were negligent in reporting the status of season-ticket sales to team officials after the Raiders agreed to return to Oakland in 1995. The jury ruled the team should get $34 million in damages, an award that reportedly increases by $3.4 million annually until paid.

Updated: 3-21-2004

Tainted Victory: $34 million
A Sacramento jury awarded the Raiders $34.2 million in their trial against Oakland and Alameda County for misrepresenting the status of ticket sales in negotiations to return the franchise from Los Angeles in 1995, according to published reports.

After the verdict was announced Aug. 26, 2003, both sides claimed victory because the jury of nine women and three men decided the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum board did not defraud the team into returning to Oakland.

The judgment against the now-defunct Coliseum board was $800 million less than the Raiders sought for poor ticket sales and declining value of the franchise. The jury also cleared two other parties of any wrongdoing - Ed DeSilva, a contractor who had served on the Coliseum board and was a key negotiator with the Raiders, and the now-disbanded Arthur Andersen accounting firm, which tracked season-ticket sales in 1995.

"From our perspective, we demonstrated that the Raiders were lied to," attorney Roger Dreyer told reporters in Sacramento after the announcement of the verdict. "I won't say to you that I think it was a good result because it was not, but we're claiming from Day One that we were lied to, and the jury agreed."

Said James Brosnahan, an attorney representing the Coliseum and DeSilva: "There's a lot to feel good about with this verdict."

The Raiders official Web site, Raiders.com, trumpeted the verdict with the following announcement:

"The jury today returned a verdict in favor of the Oakland Raiders in the team's counterclaim against the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Ed DeSilva and Arthur Andersen. The jury overwhelmingly agreed that the Coliseum, Ed DeSilva and Arthur Andersen lied and acted in bad faith in luring the Raiders back to Oakland.

However, this Internet report failed to mention that charges against DeSilva and Andersen were dismissed by the jury.

According to published reports, both sides are considering appeals. The verdict was reached on the 13th day of jury deliberations after a 15-week trial. The jury heard testimony from 45 witnesses and had more than 600 pieces of evidence to consider. There are estimates that both sides spent at least $30 million in legal fees.

The jury ruled, on a reported 11-1 vote, that Coliseum board members acted negligently when they told Raiders managing general partner Al Davis (below) and the public in 1995 that the then-named Oakland Coliseum had sold out for the coming season. Davis reportedly claimed during testimony he wouldn't have signed the 16-year lease Aug. 7, 1995 to play in Oakland without the guarantee of sellouts, and he would have relocated the franchise to Baltimore instead.

On a 9-3 vote, the jury cleared the Coliseum board of fraud charges. In California civil cases, nine of 12 jury votes are needed to resolve any claims.

Jurors said they determined a monetary damage figure by calculating the difference between actual or projected seat and luxury suite sales from 1995 through 2005 and what the Raiders would have received from 44,700 seats and 84 luxury suites - sales figures announced in a Coliseum board press release July 20, 1995.

The jury rejected the team's claim that it should be paid as though every seat in the 62,500-seat stadium would have been sold through the 2010 season, when the Raiders' current lease expires. The jury also rejected a claim by the team to be awarded damages for declining value of the franchise.

Oakland and Alameda County officials told reporters after the announcement of the verdict that the Raiders won't be paid the $34.2 million damage award because the Coliseum board was a nonprofit agency with no assets. The Raiders claim that the public agency that assumed the responsibilities of the Coliseum board - known as the Joint Powers Authority - is liable.

"They have gone after an empty pocket," Brosnahan said. "I don't think they will every collect a penny. It's really a hollow victory."

Oakland and Alameda County sued the Raiders in September 1997 to honor the remaining time on their lease at Network Associates Coliseum. The team countersued in July 1998, claiming the lease was invalid because sellouts were falsely promised before the agreement was signed.

The deal to return the Raiders from Los Angeles in 1995 has been costly for Alameda County taxpayers. The public subsidy reportedly reached $152 million in June 2003 for stadium renovation and team relocation payments. The subsidies are expected to continue at the rate of $20 million per year until the debt is paid off in 2025.

Contributing: The Mercury News & Oakland Tribune

Updated: 8-27-2003

OAKLAND RAIDERS RAP

Archives | Court | Home | Links | Schedule | Tickets