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Friday, July 12, 2024

Sibling Dispute Over Future of Chargers Moved to Arbitration

  • A judge agreed to shift the probate case into the NFL's in-house arbitration process.
  • Dea Spanos Berberian sought to force a sale of the team using California courts.
Chargers Spanos
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

After a legal battle that spanned 18 months, the sibling feud over the Los Angeles Chargers has been moved into arbitration. 

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Jayne Lee approved a request by Chargers controlling owner Dean Spanos to move the dispute over control of the team to the NFL’s in-house arbitration process in a hearing on Monday. 

Dea Spanos Berberian, the sister of Dean Spanos, recently abandoned her effort to keep the case in probate court, where she sought to force a sale of the team over allegations that the family trust was unable to meet its financial obligations.

Berberian and her three siblings each own 15% of the Chargers, and the bulk of the rest of the team is owned by the family trust. Attorneys for Dean, Michael, and Alexis Spanos Ruhl have denied the trust is having financial issues. 

Former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder was tapped by the NFL to hear the arbitration last summer, although it’s not immediately clear if Holder will still hear the case. A message left with an NFL spokesperson by Front Office Sports was not immediately returned on Monday. 

The NFL arbitration process, unlike courtroom proceedings, are secret, and Berberian’s attorney alleged the process is stacked in Dean Spanos’ favor. 

“Dean is for all practical purposes a partner in the NFL and no doubt believes the NFL’s lawyer who intends to serve as purported arbitrator will favor Dean’s interest as such,” Adam Streisand, Berberian’s attorney, wrote in a November filing. 

Apart from the issues related to control of the team, Judge Lee also moved non-Chargers issues into a separate arbitration proceedings. Lee stayed the probate case pending completion of the two arbitration proceedings. 

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