Baseball91's Weblog

September 2, 2013

Concussion Syndrome from NFL Affects the Entire State of Minnesota

Filed under: Minnesota,Minnesota Vikings — baseball91 @ 9:16 PM
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As history students of Nazi Germany learn eventually, collaborators rarely get punished. 

A spokesman for the Minnesota Vikings voiced concern when The Sports Facilities Authority of Minnesota had announced the retention of the Dorsey Whitney law firm of Minneapolis as well as FTI Consulting of Palm Beach, a forensic accounting firm.  The investigation by the state of Minnesota by independent counsel was of concern for the Minnesota Viking because this could lead to costly construction overruns, per a news story dated August 20,2013.  

viking hat FTI Consulting of Palm Beach was asked to review the NFL owner application of Zigi Wilf concerning the “financial due diligence” the league performed at the time Wilf acquired the Minnesota Vikings. Apparently such due diligence was not considered when the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill authorizing public funding of the construction of a new $975 million stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.  

At Gov. Mark Dayton’s request, Peter W. Carter, the co-chair of the securities litigation and enforcement practice at Dorsey & Whitney, was retained by the Sports Facilities Authority.  

 The reason for the investigation is the recent findings of fact in a twenty-year old New Jersey lawsuit in which a judge ruled against Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and family in civil lawsuit. One of the Time-Life publications, Forbes or Sports Illustrated, have estimated the wealth of the owner of the Minnesota Vikings at $310 million.  So how does the state of Minnesota, as a partner in the public funding of this stadium, know whether the Wilfs will have any money left by the time that the Wilfs get done paying damages in this twenty-year old lawsuit?  The defendant in the lawsuit, Viking owner as well as brother Mark Wilf and cousin Leonard, recently lost the lawsuit which resulted in findings of fact that the Wilfs had “committed fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, as well as violating New Jersey’s civil racketeering statute.  In a lawsuit first filed in 1992, a disputed a 764-apartment complex named Rachel Gardens has resulted in a judgment against Zygi and Mark Wilf with damages to be determined by September 23, 2013. All this while the state of Minnesota is moving to begin construction of a new publicly financed stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.

 According to the Associated Press, the trial lasted 209 days, lawyers took depositions from 56 people, with Zygi Wilf on the witness stand for 33 days. The Associated Press reported that Judge Wilson said that court documents showed the Wilfs had 30,000 to 50,000 apartment units, a charter airline, two hotels and and more than 100 other properties, besides the Minneota Vikings. No press comment have been made concerning the outstanding liabilities from the financing on these properties. Damages in favor of the plaintiffs have not yet been determined, though the treble damage aspect of a RICO action as well as the interest in the twenty years it took for this matter to be adjudicated may leave the Wilfs with nothing in the bank to operate their football team.  The RICO count based upon racketeering is subject to treble damages — that is, that the verdict will be multiplied times three, if this would be under federal law. And then there are punitive damages. There has been little mention on television sportscasts on in the written press whether the plaintiffs are also entitled to interest over 20 years on the overall judgment incurred as well as during any duration during the time of appeal. Lobbyists for professional sports franchises had become the media itself that covered them, because the networks sold commercial time, because consumers bought their products. And so the collaborators who have served to promote the building of the stadium with public financing.

 Yeah, it is so kind for the spokesman for the Minnesota Vikings to express concern to the increase in cost which come from any delay, as the Wilfs might not be able to meet their own share of financing.  If RICO damages are levied in this litigation, having “cheated the plaintiffs out of millions of dollars” per the findings of fact, the Wilfs’ family fortune is gone and when your partner has no assets left and is judgement-proof, the state carries responsibility for everything in building a new stadium, leaving the state of Minnesota exposed to all kinds of liabilities under the law as joint  tort feasors. The sport writers here have picked up only on the judge’s finding that the Wilfs are cheaters, having “cheated” the plaintiffs, not on the affect of the punishment on those who partner with a cheat.

There are in excess of 4500 plaintiffs involved in a consolidated concussion lawsuit against  the National Football League which was settled last week.  That settlement, involving a lot more players but a lot less money than this new stadium, was covered in the media a lot better than the oversight of public funding of the next Viking Stadium, in a state that should be getting rather good at all the Ps and Qs involved in stadium construction approved by the state legislative bodies.

 Yeah, Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs, announced that the Vikings were pulling away from negotiations with the state in the later part of August. The only difference between intervention and manipulation with the public airways is one of advanced communication. And so many of us Minnesotans had become just football airheads, concerning addictions and/or the oversight of cheaters. With too little concern about steroid use, like the little concern about concussions in the NFL. Like so little concern about the ill-gotten gains of the owner of the local NFL team.

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1 Comment »

  1. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports today that the Wilfs have filed a motion to keep their net worth sealed under court order, as Judge Deanne Wilson reviews “evidence they committed fraud and racketeering in connection with an apartment development deal from the 1980s.” The understanding seems missing here that the factual basis of fraud has already been established. A hearing concerning DAMAGES is scheduled in Morristown, N.J., for September 9th as plaintiffs Josef Halpern of Brooklyn and his sister Ada Reichmann of Toronto seek attorney fees of $16 million each, as well as punitive damages of five times the compensatory damages in this RICO racketeering lawsuit, said plaintiff attorney Alan Lebensfeld. Retired U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Orlofsky has been appointed arbiter to determine “whether the Wilfs are liable for those” $32 million in attorney fees. Judge Deanne Wilson “is scheduled to issue damages during a Sept. 23 hearing,” write Brian Murphy.

    The legal timeline in the New Jersey case –which until recently seemed unimportant to both the Minnesota State Legislature as well as the press — “overshoots a Sept. 15 deadline the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority set to review a financial audit of the Vikings and their owners,” writes Murphy.

    “Judge Deanne Wilson could release documents accounting for the Wilfs’ net worth, a key component for calculating damages in a 21-year-old civil lawsuit that threatens to delay construction of a new Vikings stadium,” writes Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press who apparently believes the Wilfs who “have repeatedly said the New Jersey lawsuit would not affect the $975 million stadium project.” What Murphy does not clarify in his reporting is that the judgment will involve, compensatory damages, RICO damages, and punitive damages. The issue is whether the Wilfs will be bankrupt after the judgment is determined.

    Note the pride and human ego, along with the cover-up of pride. The cover-up to keep their net worth sealed is but a prideful expression; a basic human sin if not a crime when partnered with the state of Minnesota in a $975 million construction project. Cover-ups are neither a means of shyness nor a show of humility. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority has a closed door meeting scheduled for 7:30 am Wednesday to review what information they have or do not have from the Wilfs, what information that they can pass on to FTI Consulting of Palm Beach (a forensic accounting firm) and the Dorsey Firm in order to complete this undefined financial “due diligence” of their partner in construction. Does anyone else wonder, maybe like the office of the attorney-general, about the closed door meeting, or why outside counsel was being employed with so much public interest?

    Comment by baseball91 — September 3, 2013 @ 9:30 PM | Reply


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