The District of Columbia is suing the Washington Commanders for the second time in as many weeks — this time accusing the NFL franchise of scheming to cheat fans out of ticket deposits.
As reported by The Associated Press, D.C. attorney general Karl Racine on Thursday announced the filing of a lawsuit in civil court against the Commanders for their actions in taking season-ticket holder money and keeping it for purposes other than the awarding of season tickets.
The complaint alleges the team “deceptively” held onto deposits beyond the 30 days spelled out in ticket-holder contracts — sometimes for more than a decade — and said it capitalized on consumers forgetting about the money or imposed extra, burdensome conditions to get it back.
In a statement responding to the suit, a Commanders spokesperson said the team has not accepted security deposits for more than a decade for suites and more than 20 years for premium tickets and began returning money to season-ticket holders in 2014.
“In 2014, as part of a comprehensive review, team management was instructed to send notices to over 1,400 customers with deposits and return all security deposits requested,” the spokesperson said, as reported by the AP. “The team engaged an outside law firm and forensic auditors to conduct an extensive review of the team’s accounts, which found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits to revenue. ”
This lawsuit comes after the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform in April referred its investigation that centered on workplace misconduct to the Federal Trade Commission for potential financial improprieties, which the Commanders denied in a subsequent letter to the FTC.
Attorneys general for D.C. and Virginia then opened up parallel investigations, and the league retained former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White to look into Washington’s questionable business practices in withholding ticket revenue not only from fans but from other teams.
Thursday's announcement marks the second civil suit by Racine’s office in eight days, after last week filing a complaint in D.C. Superior Court that the Commanders, owner Dan Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league colluded to deceive fans about an investgation into the team's workplace culture.
The AP reported that Racine said in a statement that the club’s ticket policy in question “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.”
In the latest complaint, the District says the Commanders as of March still held nearly $200,000 in unreturned security deposits paid by season-ticket holders who qualify as D.C. consumers under the Consumer Protection Procedures Act.