Sibling Alleges ‘Misogynistic Attitudes’ in Latest Legal Move Over Control of Chargers

  • The latest petition filed by Dea Spanos Berberian comes after the last case was shifted to arbitration.
  • Berberian has sought the sale of the franchise for many months.
Chargers Lawsuit
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
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Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos faces another civil case brought by one of his sisters, a legal salvo filed in a California court that alleges Dean and his brother Michael hold “misogynistic attitudes.”

The petition filed Wednesday in San Joaquin County Superior Court by lawyers representing Dea Spanos Berberian comes amid a lengthy legal battle over control of the Chargers. Her sister, Alexis Spanos Ruhl, called the allegations “outrageously untrue” in a statement to Front Office Sports.

While many of the same arguments were made in the new petition, this appears to be the first time among hundreds of pages of prior filings that Berberian’s attorneys have alleged sexism in court.

“Dea believes that Dean and Michael have repeatedly acted out of their deeply-held misogynistic attitudes and sense of entitlement as the men in the family to trample [their late parents’] express intention that Dean and Dea — not Michael — serve together, jointly and equally as co-trustees, and to rationalize their pitiable behavior which she believes is intended to teach her that a woman has no rights, no matter what any trust instrument might say,” Berberian’s attorney, Adam Streisand, wrote in the petition obtained by FOS. 

​​Siblings Dean, Michael, Alexis Spanos Ruhl, and Berberian each own 15% of the team. Most of the rest of the team, 36%, is held by the family trust. 

“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,” Dean Spanos, Michael Spanos and Alexis Spanos Ruhl said in a joint statement to FOS. “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.”

Alexis Spanos Ruhl then issued the following statement on her own:

“The statements made in today’s court filing about my brother Dean Spanos are outrageously untrue. Throughout this entire ordeal that was instigated without justification by my sister Dea Berberian, my brother Dean has been unfailingly respectful of me and of my wishes. And he has been fighting, along with my brother Michael and me, to fulfill the wishes of our mother, Faye, relating to our family and our businesses. To characterize Dean as somehow being less than fully respectful of the women in our family is just not right.”

An NFL spokesperson declined comment. 

Berberian has long pushed for a sale of the team and mentioned Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as a potential new owner in a court filing last year. As she did in a prior lawsuit, Berberian claims that the trust is insolvent. 

Representatives for the Chargers previously told FOS that the team’s finances were sound. 

This week, a judge shifted Berberian’s last case into arbitration, something Dean Spanos and the NFL had sought for several months. 

Berberian previously claimed that the trust’s debts could only be resolved by selling the franchise purchased by her father, Alex Spanos, for $72 million in 1984. The team is currently valued at $2.92 billion. 

Dean Spanos has served as president and CEO since the family purchased the franchise, then located in San Diego. Dean and Michael Spanos were given day-to-day operating duties of the team in 2015, three years before Alex Spanos died at age 95. 

This may be the first time allegations of misogyny have surfaced in court documents, but Streisand did use the hashtag #misogyny in a tweet last year, posted a day after he filed a petition on Berberian’s behalf in Los Angeles County Superior Court last April to force a sale of the team.

The latest petition mentioned misogyny because of “a pattern of intimidation and retaliation” Berberian feels she’s been subjected to, a person with knowledge of the case told FOS. The person was not authorized to speak publicly dues to the ongoing legal dispute.

Dean Spanos has not spoken out publicly much about his sister’s legal moves, although one of the exhibits in the petition included an email from Dean to his sister.

“I have never made our disagreement about the Chargers personal,” Dean Spanos wrote in September 2021 email. “You, on the other hand, have made numerous public attacks on my character and integrity. I also have not made any decisions for you as to what is in your personal best interests or tried to do so. To the contrary, it is you who is seeking to force a sale of my, Lexi and Michael’s interests in the team even though you know that none of us has any interest in selling, and despite our parent’s clear instructions that they wanted us to promote and maintain family ownership of the Chargers.

“I would like nothing better than to figure out a way to put this behind us, I have been and remain willing to make that effort (it is not true that I have refused to engage with you), and I would be open to having the 4 of us get together without lawyers to see if we can figure something out.”

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