By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 5, 2009
The Washington Redskins notified a Fairfax County woman Friday that the team plans to ask a court to vacate a $66,364 court judgment against her after she defaulted on a multiyear contract for season club tickets.
A real-estate agent, Pat Hill, 72, had signed a $5,300-a-year, 10-year contract through 2017 for two seats at FedEx Field, but was unable to make payments in 2008 after the housing market crashed. The Redskins sued Hill in October for the duration of the contract and won a default judgment in March.
She was one of 125 people and firms who had been sued by the Redskins in the past five years after they defaulted on multiyear contracts to purchase premium seats.
Redskins General Counsel David Donovan wrote to Hill in an e-mail Friday afternoon: "I have directed our outside counsel to notify the courts that your obligation to the Redskins has been satisfied and to vacate the judgment against you. That means you no longer owe the Redskins anything, and you are released from all of your contractual obligations."
Donovan and other Redskins officials did not return phone calls or e-mails from The Washington Post on Friday.
Donovan's e-mail began: "I was sorry to read in the Post your account of your financial difficulties that prevented you from being able to pay for your Redskins Club Seats in 2008. I wish that you had returned our calls in 2008 or reached out to me in response to the letters I and others had sent you and explained your situation. If that had happened, we never would have proceeded with the claim against you."
Hill said she phoned Donovan when she got home Friday night from a day at a real-estate office where she is trying to jump-start her flagging sales practice. She said she told Donovan that she had called the Redskins repeatedly and once drove to the team's ticket office at FedEx Field.
Hill said she had attempted to get a waiver of a year or two in her contract. "I must have talked to them eight or nine times," she said. "I talked to a number of different people."
She said she couldn't afford a lawyer and never responded to the lawsuit.
Hill said Donovan told her that she should have called him directly. She said she told him: "I didn't even know you existed. I don't know you."
Hill said Donovan also told her she should have responded to the team's letters, but she told a reporter Friday, "I got no letters, and every call that was ever made to me was returned, and I physically went down to the Redskins office and explained my situation."
After her phone conversation with Donovan, Hill told The Post: "It is like he is blaming everything on me."
Donovan's e-mail said his decision was unrelated to a Post story this week featuring Hill's financial problems and describing the lawsuits filed against ticket holders.
"This is not the first time I have done something like this with respect to a Club Seat or Suiteholder who has fallen on hard times, and it has nothing to do with your decision to go to the Post with your story," Donovan wrote.
In the phone call, Hill said she told Donovan, "I didn't go to The Post. The Post came to me."
A reporter contacted her after finding the Redskins' lawsuit and judgment during a review of records in Prince George's County Circuit Court.
Hill has returned to her real estate practice to earn money. She said she was unaware of Donovan's e-mail for hours because she was taking a client to sign a lease, for which she will get a $200 commission. "I'm showing houses again today, and I'll show houses again tomorrow," Hill said. "I'm trying really hard."
A grandmother who has lived in the Washington area most of her life, Hill said she first started going to games in 1962 at the old D.C. Stadium, later RFK Stadium, where her daughter danced in half-time shows. That year, she tapped an official in the locker room, where the girls dressed before the shows, and asked for season tickets. He obliged. She has held them ever since, purchasing club seats when FedEx Field opened as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in 1997.
Hill still hopes to get to some games this year. She said she had hoped that Donovan might offer her some tickets. She has received many phone calls since the story appeared, she said, and fans have offered to take her to games.
She's planning to go.