Legal Update: The Courts and American Soccer – Vermes and VW

Its been a while since we took a look at some of the ongoing civil litigation and criminal actions involving American soccer personalities, clubs and leagues.  However, with the recent news of Peter Vermes arrest on a DUI, we thought we would take a look at some of the cases that have been prominent over the last year.

We’ll start with Mr. Vermes, who was recently arrested on suspicion of DUI 30 miles Southwest of Kansas City.  The arrest occurred in the early morning hours of August 24.  He spent about six hours in jail, posted a $750 bond and was released.  He will be arraigned on November 9.  Fortunately for Mr. Vermes, harsher penalties recently recommended by a commission in Kansas have not yet taken effect.  Currently, jail time is an uncommon sentence, even after multiple offenses.  To date, there has been noevidence that he has previously been found guilty on a DUI charge.  While the criminal proceeding likely has months until it reaches a resolution, it is unclear what steps the Wizards will take with their coach.  We will update this post as the matter moves forward.

We’ve posted a couple of times over the last few months about the litigation involving DC United.  The gist of the lawsuit is that the plaintiffs (Jones and Mair) are alleging that DC United (Macfarlane Chang DC Soccer, LLC) breached a contract with the plaintiffs regarding the location of potential DC United Sponsors.  Specifically, the plaintiffs allege they were entitled to a 22-25% commission on the deal to make VW the presenting sponsor of DC United.

The case was dismissed (by agreement), in early Summer.  The defendants had filed for Summary Judgment in the Spring and the Court had granted that motion.  As such, the defendants essentially won without having to take the matter to trial. A review of the Motion for Summary Judgment suggests that the plaintiff’s claim was essentially baseless.   There was a 14 month gap between the plaintiff’s effforts to contact VW as a sponsor and the actually signing of the deal.

From a business perspective, the case is interesting because it details United’s efforts (through Kevin Payne), to secure VW as a sponsor.  The relationship began over a search for property in Virgina and ultimate became a presenting sponsorship.  VW’s move to Virginia included a wish to get involved with local properties and with the Honda deal expiring, VW made a perfect target for MLS and DC United.  The courtship included dinners, phone calls, meetings and live games.  United personnel traveled extensively to close the deal and did so in the Spring of 2008.  There is no suggestion the plaintiff’s were involved.