Los Angeles Chargers owner is sued by his sister in a legal battle for control of the franchise
By Kevin Dotson, CNN
Los Angeles Chargers owner and chairman Dean Spanos is being sued by his sister and team co-owner Dea Spanos Berberian, who’s accusing him of “misogynistic” behavior and repeated “breaches of fiduciary duty” in his role as controlling owner of the NFL franchise.
Berberian seeks sole control of the family trust that owns the largest share of the franchise, according to a petition filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court.
Following the deaths of their parents in 2018, Spanos and Berberian were named co-trustees of the trust, which holds a 36% ownership stake in the team, court filings show.
Spanos, Berberian and their two other siblings — team vice chairman Michael Spanos and Alexis Spanos Ruhl — each individually own 15% of the Chargers. The four siblings are equal beneficiaries of the family trust, according to court documents.
The remaining 4% of the franchise is owned by other parties outside of the Spanos family.
In her lawsuit, Berberian alleges that Dean Spanos and brother Michael have acted against their parents’ wishes “out of their deeply-held misogynistic attitudes and sense of entitlement as the men in the family” in order to “teach her that a woman has no rights.”
She also accuses her brothers of fiduciary mismanagement that has left the Spanos family trust with more than $358 million of debt as of the end of 2021, the lawsuit shows. Berberian points to one instance where she said financials were manipulated to borrow more than $60 million for the “wasteful purchase of an airplane for Dean’s and Michael’s use that has no legitimate business justification,” according to the lawsuit.
Berberian argues that her brothers have “pursued a campaign to punish, belittle and humiliate” her in retaliation for speaking against their management of the family trust.
Her lawsuit claims that Dean and Michael Spanos “believe to their cores that, regardless of what their parents intended and their wills specified, men are in charge and women should shut up.”
Dean and Michael Spanos along with their sister Ruhl released a joint statement Friday, denouncing the actions of Berberian.
“It is unfortunate that our sister Dea, who clearly has no interest in continuing to participate in the family’s businesses, has resorted to leveling false and provocative charges in an attempt to impose her will on the rest of the family,” they say in the statement.
“The three of us and our children, representing more than 75% of the family and its ownership of its businesses, stand united in support of our parents’ and grandparents’ wishes, including as to the continued ownership and operation of the Chargers.”
In a separate statement, Ruhl said her brother Dean has been “unfailingly respectful of me and of my wishes.”
“To characterize Dean as somehow being less than fully respectful of the women in our family is just not right,” Ruhl continued.
Last year, Berberian filed a lawsuit attempting to force the sale of the family trust, including its stake in the Chargers franchise. The NFL intervened and asked to arbitrate the matter since it was a dispute among NFL owners, a source familiar with the case told CNN.
Berberian agreed this week to allow the NFL to arbitrate that matter, according to the source.
The NFL declined to comment on the situation.
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