The Washington Redskins filed suit against one of their former players, linebacker H.B. Blades, to recoup $40,000 the team mistakenly paid him three years ago as the result of a clerical error.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by TMZ.com, was filed in federal court in New York on Thursday.
A summons filed Friday notified Blades that he had 21 days from receipt of the document to reply to the Redskins’ complaint. Failure to respond, it noted, would result in “judgment by default.”
The Redskins selected Blades, a former all-American at Pittsburgh, in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL draft. He played four seasons for the Redskins, appearing in all 64 games in that span and registering 139 tackles, and was cut just before the 2011 season opener.
No lawyer was listed on the court documents as representing Blades in the case. His former agent, Brian Murphy, did not respond to an email. And Blades himself, who most recently served as an assistant high school football coach in the Carolinas, could not be reached to comment.
Redskins senior vice president of communications Tony Wyllie, asked to comment on the lawsuit, said simply, “Everyone is focusing on the combine in Indianapolis,” declining to elaborate.
The Redskins are the NFL’s third-richest team, according to Forbes magazine’s 2015 valuation of teams, worth roughly $2.85 billion.
According to the lawsuit, the Redskins paid Blades a $40,000 severance on Sept. 28, 2012. “The Redskins mistakenly paid an additional $40,000 to Blades on December 27, 2013 as a result of a clerical error,” the suit went on to say.
The following month, the Redskins sent him a letter demanding repayment.
After he didn’t repay the money, the NFL Management Council filed a grievance on behalf of the Redskins on Feb. 6, 2014, seeking reimbursement of erroneous payment.
In an arbitration hearing later that year, Blades agreed to repay $20,658.88, which represented his “take-home pay” after taxes and withholdings, in installments.
After he failed to make the payments, the arbitrator in March 2o15 ordered him to repay the money in full.
News of the Redskins’ lawsuit filed was met by derision on social media, with many mocking the team and billionaire owner Daniel Snyder for going to such lengths to recoup a relatively modest sum from a former player, particularly given that the initial mistake was the Redskins’.
A “low blow” is how one reader characterized it on the website Pro Football Talk.
Wrote another: “If they can manage to recover that, they should look into getting back money from [Adam] Archuleta and [Albert] Haynesworth, also apparent clerical errors that received money they clearly didn’t earn.”