New York real estate developer Howard Milstein refiled his lawsuit against former Redskins president John Kent Cooke yesterday, this time saying he wants more than $100 million in damages for troubles he claimed Cooke caused him in his ill-fated bid to buy the football franchise.
The new complaint, filed in D.C. Superior Court, also removes former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly as a defendant in the dispute.
Alan B. Vickery, an attorney for Milstein's Washington Sports Ventures Inc., declined to explain why Casserly no longer was a target. But Casserly's attorney, Robert S. Bennett, said he had argued for months that Casserly did nothing wrong and didn't belong in an expensive fight that could entail dozens of depositions and years of legal maneuvering.
Casserly "should never have been sued in the first place," Bennett said. "We are pleased that they have heard and considered our views."
Milstein and his attorneys initially sued Cooke and Casserly in U.S. District Court in May, alleging that they conspired with allies in the National Football League to derail Milstein's $800 million bid to buy the team from the estate of Cooke's late father, Jack Kent Cooke.
The federal complaint, which set no dollar amount for damages, alleged that John Kent Cooke "obsessively" wanted the team for himself and interfered with a contract Milstein brokered with trustees representing the estate.
The new litigation contains similar allegations against Cooke. As it turned out, neither Cooke nor Milstein wound up with the team. Milstein backed out when he ran into difficulty winning NFL approval, and the franchise went to Daniel M. Snyder, a former partner of Milstein's, for $800 million.
Milstein's attorneys said they moved the battleground to Superior Court to avoid legal questions about jurisdiction. Cooke had sought to have the federal suit dismissed because he moved to Bermuda in March and no longer was a District resident. Under D.C. law, however, Cooke's residency is not an issue, and Milstein can move beyond that challenge.
Cooke, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, issued a statement last night saying: "It has been clear from the outset that Mr. Milstein sued the wrong people in the wrong court. He has now admitted that he sued in the wrong court, and has withdrawn his case against one of the defendants.
"It is only a question of time before this baseless suit disappears altogether."