Charlie Ebersol, the cofounder of the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, responded to a lawsuit filed by the league's former players by alleging that it was the AAF players who committed "intentional misrepresentations" and fraud, legal documents show.
The players, in their class-action suit filed in April, alleged that Ebersol and co-defendants Tom Dundon and Legendary Field Exhibitions, LLC, among others, were the ones who committed fraud and didn't live up to their contracts.
In their initial complaint, the players alleged that Dundon, Ebersol and others "concealed and suppressed a material fact about their intentions for the long-term viability of the Alliance of American Football." The league shuttered before the end of its first season and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April.
Ebersol's response document does not say what type of fraud or misrepresentation he is alleging that the players committed. The document does allege that the plaintiffs had "material breaches of obligations" and "directly interfered with Defendant's performance of its obligations" but does not state what those breaches or interference are.
The response also says Ebersol "denies, both generally and specifically, each and every allegation contained in the Plaintiff's Complaint" and believes the plaintiffs are not entitled to any damages and Ebersol "acted reasonably, in good faith and without malice based upon all relevant facts and circumstances known by Defendant at the time." Ebersol also alleges that the Plaintiffs should not receive any damages due to the "negligent" and "intentional intervening acts of a third party," shielding Ebersol from liability. The document does not say who the third party is.
Ebersol is also alleging that the players should be "barred from claiming any injuries or damages because such injuries and damages are the sole, direct and proximate result of Plaintiffs' conduct." The document does not state what that conduct is.
"We're frustrated that the league, from the beginning, has decided to treat the players like this," said Jonathon Farahi of Abir, Cohen, Treyon and Salo, the attorney for the players. "Football is a competitive, violent sport, and this league failed to keep up its promise to its players. From Day 1 of the league, Charlie Ebersol and all of the backers of the AAF promised the players one thing, that this was a players' league.
"Their actions have been completely different in reality."
Michael J. Saltz, the attorney for Ebersol, did not immediately return messages left by ESPN seeking comment on Monday. Ebersol also did not immediately return a text message seeking comment.
A source told ESPN that about a fifth of the league's players have signed up to be part of the class-action lawsuit, and a ruling on whether the players would be considered a class -- meaning they would all be represented in this case -- is expected to be made this fall.
In a separate case regarding the AAF in San Antonio, the trustee for the league, Randolph N. Osherow, filed a motion last week for a settlement with MGM Resorts International for part of MGM's claim against the league, specifically regarding the intellectual property and technology the league had been developing.
MGM had given the AAF $7 million to help develop the intellectual property and is now attempting to come to a settlement agreement in which the league would sell the IP to MGM for $125,000 and reduce its overall bankruptcy claim from $7 million to $5 million, court records claim.
The settlement motion also states that on April 1, the day before news broke that the league was suspending operations, MGM and the Alliance of American Football "entered into a certain IP License and Escrow Agreement under which the Debtors provided MGM with a perpetual, irrevocable and fully paid-up license for use of the IP."
MGM is now trying to take complete ownership of the IP, according to the motion.