Exclusive: Executive Sues Cash-Strapped United Football League | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The chief operating officer of the United Football League said his own league won't have enough money to pay his salary, according to a lawsuit filed in Duval County.
Bill Peterson, who is still listed as the UFL Chief Operating Officer on the league's Web site, filed the lawsuit last month, saying the UFL owes him $110,018 in back salary.
Peterson said the league paid him less than owed starting last February. In April, for example, he said the UFL paid him $10,355 instead of $27,145 that was owed according to his contract.
Peterson also asked for a "writ of garnishment," a court action that requested $221,000 to be held in a separate account until the case can be decided in arbitration.
Peterson's "claim in arbitration...is likely to take enough time so that Defendant [UFL] will no longer have assets sufficient to satisfy the arbitration judgment Plaintiff [Peterson] is likely to recover," according to the lawsuit.
The court action raises more questions about the financial stability of the UFL, which announced Monday it's cutting the season short and fast-tracking its title game to Friday.
The league is based in Jacksonville, but only has four teams, currently playing in Las Vegas, Omaha, Sacramento and Virginia Beach.
A UFL spokesman, Michael Preston, said the league is still seeking new investors and expansion locations. When asked how the league could seek out new investors when the company's own executive says they're running out of money, Preston said he couldn't comment on a pending legal issue. Preston also wouldn't say whether Peterson is still the COO.
He called back an hour later, saying the issue was "settled." But the case is still open in Duval County Circuit Court.
Peterson's lawyer did not return our calls seeking comment.
We asked a lawyer, Tad Delegal, who specializes in employment law, to review the case for First Coast News.
"In this case, the allegations were that the business did not appear to have enough money to pay these debts. The court looked at the situation and agreed that the money should be set aside in case the employee wins," Delegal said.
Based on his experience with these types of cases, we also asked Delegal about his opinions on the financial health of the UFL.
"It's certainly not a good sign. It could just be a cash flow issue too, could be a matter that they are anticipating having more revenues, but they haven't been able to pay right now," Delegal said.
Included in Peterson's court action against the UFL is his contract with the league. It reveals he was set to earn $600,000 annually, or $50,000 a month. He also got a company car (or $400 a month) a company cell phone (or $200 a month) and $10,000 in moving expenses.
Peterson's "duties and responsibilities," according to the contract, include profitably manage future expansion plans, accomplish market dominance and "unleash innovation."
First Coast News reported in March that the Mayo Clinic also sued the UFL. That case is still open, according to the clerk's Web site.