Lawyers seek NFL protection from Snyder suits

Lawyers representing more than 40 former team employees are asking the NFL to make the sale of the Washington Commanders contingent on Dan Snyder not suing people who participated in various investigations.

Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz made the request in a letter sent to league commissioner Roger Goodell by email Wednesday. Banks and Katz asked for protection for their clients and others who spoke to Beth Wilkinson, Mary Jo White and Congress as part of investigations into Snyder and the team.

“Given Mr. Snyder’s well-earned reputation for being vindictive and litigious, and the experience of several of our clients who were harassed by private investigators, this is a very real concern for those who came forward,” Banks and Katz wrote in the letter. “Although we are confident that any such litigation would be meritless … the emotional, financial and professional toll on these individuals to defend against even a baseless lawsuit would be incalculable.”

In a phone interview with the AP, Banks said it was prudent to be concerned about Snyder retaliating against those who spoke out against him.

“It’s something that is easily addressed to ensure that it doesn’t happen,” Banks said. “If he has no interest or intention to bring legal action against anybody who participated or made allegations against him, then he should have no problem agreeing to that type of provision.”

Banks said the NFL had confirmed receipt of the letter.

Snyder reached an agreement in principle last week to sell the team he has owned since 1999 to a group led by Josh Harris and Mitchell Rales (the group also includes Magic Johnson) for a price of $6.05 billion.

Earlier this week, the fully financed, nonexclusive and unsigned agreement was sent to the NFL office for review before final signatures are added.

Once the parties execute a contract, the league’s finance committee must do an evaluation before the sale is put to a vote. Two-thirds of owners (24 of 32) must approve to make it official, something that could happen as soon as their next meeting in late May or this summer.

A U.S. House committee started investigating the team in October 2021 after the NFL did not release a written report of its review of the Commanders’ workplace culture. The league’s independent review by Wilkinson was completed in summer 2021 and resulted in a $10 million fine to the team.

Drawing from hearings, interviews and depositions, the House report concluded that Snyder interfered in its investigation and in Wilkinson’s review, which stemmed in 2020 from former employees alleging rampant sexual harassment by team executives.