MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CN) - Five former NFL players and coaches sued Football University and Football Tech, both of which run football camps, claiming that after Football U sued Football Tech, the NFL guys lost their jobs because Football Tech claimed the lawsuit "had drained all their start-up money."
The former pro athletes filed separate complaints against the two LLCs in Morris County Court.
Plaintiffs include former Detroit Lions assistant coach Larry Beightol; former NFL secondary coach John Fontes; former University of Miami assistant coach Donald Soldinger; Joseph "Bo" Orlando, who played safety for eight seasons mostly with the Houston Oilers; and Steven Pisarkiewicz, who played for three years, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The plaintiffs say that Football University, of Wharton, N.J., hired them in 2009 and 2010 as independent contractors to work as football instructors. All five plaintiffs say they "had not signed a contract with this company."
When Football U did not get back to them with information working the 2011 football camp season, the plaintiffs say they left a message for nonparty school principal Rich McGuinness "stating that [they] would not be a part of Football University in 2011 or any future date."
Then the plaintiffs contacted Football Tech, based in Knoxville, Tenn., which signed them to contracts of varying lengths for the new season.
But in February this year, the plaintiffs say, "Football University LLC filed a lawsuit against Football Tech," and filed for a temporary restraining order "seeking to prohibit former Football University coaches from working at Football Tech's camps that were about to commence."
"Once this lawsuit was filed, Football Tech camps began to get canceled," the former pros say.
The two football camp operators settled in March, but the former pros say Football Tech principal John Morris then "advised [them] that the legal fees from the Chancery Division suit had drained all their start-up money."
All five say they were released from their contracts after being told the bad news, and were told they could not work for Football Tech for 1 year: until April 2012.
The plaintiffs say Football University "misrepresented that [they] were under contract" with Football U. They say that because they never signed a contract, they should "not be subject to any restrictive covenants."
The plaintiffs seek varying monetary damages for breach of contract and interference with economic advantage.
Most contracts were in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per football camp. The plaintiffs say they worked as many as two dozen camps per year.
They are all represented by Gary Price with Buttafuoco, Arce & Price of South Plainfield, N.J.
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