A Timeline Of The AUDL Lawsuit: How Did We Get Here?

A full two weeks have passed since the public was first made aware of the American Ultimate Disc League’s lawsuit against the Connecticut Constitution and the Rhode Island Rampage. Because there are so many moving parts to this story, we took a page from Skyd and put together a full timeline of events leading up to the lawsuit and the analysis since that point.

If you are new to the story, we recommend starting here to get a good background. For those who are already familiar, there is a lot of new, unreported content included below. Links have been included wherever possible, and every fact or statement is sourced in parentheses.

2010

On March 4, 2010, Emerson Kilgore, the owner of Rhode Island, reached out to Josh Moore, the President of the AUDL, expressing interest in purchasing a franchise. (AUDL lawsuit)

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On October 19, 2010, Bryan Ricci, the owner of Connecticut, emailed Josh Moore with interest in Moore’s “new sports league” after seeing a listing on Craigslist. (AUDL lawsuit)

2011

On March 12th, the league signed a Territory License Agreement for a New York City team. The licensee would later back out at an unspecified time. (AUDL lawsuit)

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On March 15th, 2011, Ricci and the league signed a TLA for the Hartford team. Ricci told Ultiworld, “I really was not aware that anyone in New York City had signed an agreement.”

Although the TLA originally listed $1000 as the selling price, the territory was sold for $100. Ricci said of the change, “When the league was forming, Josh [Moore] thought it was important to get as many teams on board as possible. So there were a lot of discounts offered.” (AUDL lawsuit / UW reporting)

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On April 30th and May 1st, the league hosted a team owners’ meeting in Pittsburgh. Ricci was in attendance. The league presented “a package of materials for review, discussion, and a vote.” The AUDL contend that the owners present, including Ricci, “voted unanimously in favor of a 16 team league,” which included franchises in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.

Joe Ricci, a part-owner of the Constitution, says that Moore “had thrown all these places around and nothing seemed to be set in stone…Right at the owners meeting they scratched out the name so it was known there was no New York team.” Bryan Ricci added that there was never a vote to allow a particular franchise like New York or Boston. (AUDL lawsuit / UW reporting)

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On June 2, the league signed a TLA for a Boston team. The licensee would later back out at an unspecified time. (AUDL lawsuit)

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On June 8, the league signed a TLA with Emerson Kilgore for a Rhode Island team.

Although the TLA originally listed $1000 as the selling price, the territory was sold for $100. (AUDL lawsuit)

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On December 9, the AUDL signed a TLA with a new owner for a franchise in New York City for the 2013 season. (AUDL lawsuit)

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In December, the AUDL “reached a tentative agreement” with Brent Steepe, owner of the Detroit Mechanix and VP of Marketing for the league, to establish a Boston team. The owners had not yet voted to allow owners to hold financial interests in more than one team. This confirmed earlier Ultiworld reporting. (AUDL lawsuit / UW reporting)

2012

On February 1, the league signed a TLA with Jeff Snader to start a franchise in Philadelphia. (AUDL lawsuit)

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On March 21, the league signed a TLA to start a team in New Jersey for the 2013 season. (AUDL lawsuit)

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In March, Moore raised a team vote on whether or not to allow owners to have a financial interest in multiple franchises. The vote came down four to four. Moore cast the tiebreaking vote in favor of allowing it.

Prior to the vote, the owners had not been informed of the tentative agreement for the Boston franchise between Steepe and Moore. Steepe voted in favor of allowing multiple financial interests. The league bylaws do not require one to recuse oneself in the case of a conflict of interest. (UW reporting)

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On April 14, the league officially opened its inaugural season with eight franchises competing. (AUDL website)

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In May, the league announced to the current owners for the first time the confirmed franchises for the 2013 seasons, which included New York, Boston, and New Jersey. Ricci said, “We were officially notified of the sold territories of NYC and Boston in an email dated May 25.” (UW reporting)

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In May, Ricci and Kilgore alleged that the league breached its contract by establishing new franchises in New York and Boston, which are within 100 miles of their territories. (AUDL lawsuit / UW reporting)

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In May or June (but before the lawsuit was filed), the league compensated the Philadelphia ownership for the establishment of the New Jersey and New York franchises, which fall within the 100-mile radius of Philly. (UW reporting)

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In May and early June, discussions between the league and Connecticut/Rhode Island stagnated. (UW reporting)

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On June 12th, Ricci and Kilgore sent an email to the league that included the following:

[quote][Boston and New York franchises] are not acceptable based on our territory agreement contract and we implore you to immediately rescind those territory sales inasmuch as they have come to exist within our territory and without our territory ownership approval. We intend to enforce our rights should you not cancel those new territory agreements. Our enforcement to protect our territory will include, but not be limited to, legal action and cease and desist orders.[/quote]

(AUDL lawsuit)

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On June 15th, the league’s lawyer responded, explaining the league’s position and proposing a “meeting of team owners…to discuss the restrictive covenants in the TLA,” hoping that “a compromise can be reached agreeable to all concerned.”

Later that day, the owners responded with the following email:

[quote]The League’s response is interesting reading, but it really says nothing more than “we don’t care what your contract says.” Mr. Moore and the League may not care, but a court will. We will respond further in due course. In the meantime, we do not intend to speak with Mr. Moore over the weekend. Mr. Moore or the AUDL should not assume, in the absence of a response this weekend, that we have no interest in calling a meeting of the owners or taking further action.[/quote]

(AUDL lawsuit)

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On June 17th, the league filed suit against the two teams. (AUDL lawsuit)

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In late June, discussions continued between the two sides. Ricci says the league offered to withdraw the lawsuit and drop the new franchises, but Ricci declined, asking the league to also pay his attorney fees.

Then the league, according to Ricci, offered to withdraw the suit and pay the team $8000, while keeping the New York franchise. Ricci declined.

He told Ultiworld, “It’s hard to put a value on a franchise anymore,” later adding that he knew at the time he signed the contract that his territory was expansive. “In sports, in any sense of the word, it’s great to own New York and Boston,” he said.

The AUDL wrote on its Facebook page that Ricci and Kilgore were “offered more than the league received for the sale of the [Boston and New York] teams but they declined.” (UW reporting)

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On July 5th, Ricci announced that the Constitution would be suspending their operations due to legal costs, making the lawsuit known publicly for the first time.

Later that day, Moore posted a response on the AUDL website, claiming that the owners previously agreed to Boston and New York teams. (CT/AUDL websites)

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On July 8th, Skyd Magazine heard from sources that certain “players were told that in the original contract there were 16 teams in the AUDL, including New York City, Boston, Rochester, NY, and other areas, but because some owners (including New York City and Boston) dropped out early the current contract was agreed to in understanding that the territories which dropped out would later be included. After both the Constitution and Rampage realized that the majority of their talent and fans came from New York City or Boston the legal battle came about.” (Skyd Magazine)

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On July 11th, Ricci announced on the Constitution website that the team would be resuming operations after missing two games against Kentucky and Indianapolis. (CT website)

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On July 12th, the Detroit Mechanix announced on Facebook that their game against the Constitution had been cancelled by the league. The league did not make an official announcement. (Detroit FB)

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On July 13th, the Constitution announced that they had been fined $20,000 by the league – the maximum $10,000 for each missed game – to be paid to Kentucky and Indianapolis. Ricci told Ultiworld the fines were “severe and excessive” and that he would not pay them.

The league’s operating manual’s section on fines reads as follows:

[quote]If the road team is late to the game, a fine will be paid to the home team in the amount of $100 for every minute late (from 30 minutes prior to the scheduled game time) up to $10,000. Failure to show up to the game will result in a forfeit. Owners may mutually agree to move the game time and avoid fines if prior notice is given to the League.[/quote]

(CT website / UW reporting)

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On July 15th, Ultiworld obtained, published, and analyzed an exclusive copy of Connecticut’s Territory License Agreement. (UW reporting)

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On July 16th, Ultiworld examined the league’s legal standing if they were to put a team just outside the 100-mile radius in New York.

Ricci also told Ultiworld that the Constitution’s season was likely over unless the league reduced the fines. He also expressed a lot of uncertainty about both the team’s future with the AUDL. Speaking about the league and the owners, he said, “We tried to get this thing going quickly, and we failed. It should have been reviewed by an attorney and we didn’t do that.”

In an unrelated matter, sources told Ultiworld that the Columbus Cranes are now being financially supported by the league and that their owner has effectively left the team. Those rumors have not yet been confirmed and were partially denied on the Cranes’ twitter. (UW reporting)

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On July 17th, sources told Ultiworld that the Rhode Island Rampage have been informed that their home game against the Indianapolis Alleycats has been cancelled. This has not yet been confirmed.

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On July 18th, Ultiworld obtained a copy of the AUDL lawsuit and explained their main contention: that the 100-mile radius clause is “unenforceable.”

Philadelphia’s General Manager and Majority Owner Jeff Snader also told Ultiworld that the lawsuit was “ridiculous.”

Late last night, Buffalo announced on their Facebook that their game against the Constitution this weekend has been cancelled.

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Later this morning we will post the full text of the lawsuit along with a legal analysis. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Questions? Email us at editor@ultiworld.com or click the ‘Contact’ tab above.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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