The now-shuttered Alliance of American Football faces a pair of class-action lawsuits from its former employees, days after the startup league suddenly suspended operations after less than one season due to financial difficulties.
A lawsuit filed by former AAF players Colton Schmidt and Reggie Northrup names the AAF, its LLC, Legendary Field Exhibitions and its primary owners, chairman Tom Dundon and co-founder Charlie Ebersol. The other lawsuit, filed on behalf of James Roberson, former communications director of the AAF’s Birmingham Iron, targets the league’s leadership and investors, including co-founder Bill Polian and front office executives Troy Polamalu and Jared.
The players’ class-action suit accuses the AAF of various infractions, included breach of contract, failure to pay wages and fraud, according to ESPN, which first reported on the filings. Schmidt and Northrup are seeking damages, alleging that the AAF’s leadership misled players about the league’s financial health.
The AAF "made promises to the plaintiffs and class members regarding the long-term longevity and health of the league. Defendants did not intend to perform the promises made when they made the promises," the players’ lawsuit said.
The AAF suspended all football operations earlier this month, in a decision league officials attributed to their failure to reach terms on a deal with the NFL Players’ Association to use NFL players on AAF rosters. However, the league was plagued by reports of money issues within days after its debut, even as Ebersol and other executives claimed they had funding to sustain a multi-year run.
Dundon pledged to invest $250 million toward league operations in a deal announced last February, but ultimately opted to pull funding. Former AAF players received abrupt notice that the league would end its first season early, and many were left to buy their own plane tickets home or cover medical and hotel bills.
Roberson’s class-action suit seeks unpaid wages and other benefits for former AAF employees and alleges the league failed to provide adequate notice of its collapse.