“The Team responded to Mr. Friedman’s allegations of financial improprieties by repeatedly and publicly calling him a liar, accusing him of committing the federal crime of perjury, and falsely implying that he was terminated as part of the Team’s sexual harassment scandal that was being widely reported … in the press,” Friedman’s attorneys wrote in his lawsuit.
“The Team’s false statements about Mr. Friedman, which it has repeated or caused to be repeated in various public forums, have devastated him personally and professionally: [H]e suffers from severe anxiety and depression, will require ongoing medical treatment, and has been unable to find a comparable job due to the Team’s deliberate and malicious destruction of his reputation.”
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The 15-page lawsuit, filed July 7 in the civil division of the Loudoun County Circuit Court, names Pro Football Inc., which owns the Commanders, and attorney John Brownlee as defendants. It requests a jury trial and says Friedman is seeking $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, plus interest, attorneys’ fees, expenses, costs and any other damages the court deems proper.
The Commanders and Brownlee did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.
“Jason Friedman testified truthfully before Congress about his experiences with the Washington Commanders,” Lisa Banks, one of Friedman’s attorneys, said in a statement. “In response to his testimony, the team and its lawyer attempted to publicly destroy him by baselessly calling him a liar and questioning his moral character. I am confident that Mr. Friedman will be vindicated both by the NFL’s investigation and a court of law.”
The lawsuit cites a public statement by the team, a letter the team sent to the FTC and comments Brownlee made in a radio interview.
The House Oversight Committee’s 2022 letter to the FTC was based on the allegations made by Friedman, a former vice president of sales and customer service who worked for the franchise for 24 years. The 20-page letter said the Commanders and Snyder “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct” that allegedly involved withholding as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and also hiding money that was supposed to be shared among NFL team owners.
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The committee’s letter was copied to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and to the attorneys general of D.C., Maryland and Virginia. The office of Karl A. Racine (D), then the District’s attorney general, filed two lawsuits last year against the Commanders. The team reached settlements with the D.C. and Maryland attorneys general offices, without admitting wrongdoing, related to allegations of withholding deposits from ticket holders.
The NFL is conducting its second investigation of Snyder and the team, this one by attorney Mary Jo White, and has vowed to release the findings publicly. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the committee’s ranking Democrat, urged the NFL in a letter last month to Goodell to abide by its pledge to release the findings of White’s investigation and to impose any appropriate discipline.
NFL owners are scheduled to meet Thursday in Minneapolis to consider and potentially vote to approve Snyder’s $6.05 billion sale of the Commanders to a group led by private equity investor Josh Harris.
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