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NFL’s Washington Commanders settle claims of mishandling ticket deposits

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A detailed view of the new Washington Commanders uniforms following the announcement of the Washington Football Team’s name change to the Washington Commanders at FedExField on February 02, 2022 in Landover, Maryland.

Rob Carr | Getty Images

The NFL’s Washington Commanders will pay $625,000 to settle allegations brought by Washington D.C.’s attorney general that the organization failed to return fans’ ticket deposits, the AG’s office announced Monday.

Former D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine sued the Commanders in November, alleging the team cheated D.C. residents out of their security deposits collected from season ticketholders and used the money for its own purposes. The lawsuit also claimed that the team “intentionally complicated the return process by imposing extra, burdensome conditions that were not previously adequately disclosed.”

Racine alleged that the Commanders sold premium seating tickets to D.C. fans since 1996, which sometimes required a security deposit. While the team promised tickets holders they would get their deposits back within 30 days of the contracts’ expiration, Racine alleged the team pocketed the money, sometimes for over a decade, and spent it.

A Commanders spokesperson said in a statement that the team hasn’t collected security deposits in more than a decade and has been “actively working to return any remaining deposits since 2014.”

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement on the matter with the DC Attorney General and will work with the office to fulfill our obligations to our fans,” the spokesperson said.

The team denied wrongdoing in settling the claims.

Per the settlement agreement, the Commanders will pay more than $200,000 to impacted D.C. fans, as well as $425,000 to D.C. for “restitution, attorneys’ fees, costs associated with the investigation and contributions to the District’s litigation support fund,” according to a news release out of the office of Attorney General Brian Schwalb, who has since succeeded Racine.

The agreement stipulates the Commanders must conduct a public record search for impacted fans and attempt to notify them by multiple means, including phone calls and emails. The team will also have to prominently disclose the refund process on its website and provide the attorney general’s office with “regular reports” documenting its attempts to return cash to impacted fans.

In a statement tied to the settlement agreement, Schwalb said the attorney general’s office “will maintain strict oversight over the Commanders” to ensure fans are properly reimbursed for the full refund they’re entitled to.

“Our office takes seriously the obligation to enforce DC consumer protection laws by holding accountable anyone that tries to exploit District consumers,” he added.

The Commanders have been hit with several claims of misconduct from inside the team’s front office in recent years. In 2022, a report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee said the NFL and the Commanders had misled the public concerning an investigation into longstanding misconduct in the team’s workplace.

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