Wilfs formally appeal New Jersey court ruling

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 8, 2014 - 7:55 PM
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Vikings owners Zygi Wilf, right, and brother Mark Wilf.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune file

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Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf on Wednesday continued his legal fight in New Jersey to overturn a $103 million judgment against him and his business partners, including a related move to force the family to disclose its financial worth.

The defendants, who include Vikings President Mark Wilf (Zygi’s brother), and Zygi’s cousin and Vikings Vice Chairman, Leonard Wilf, formally appealed a lower-court ruling in December. That ruling ordered them to pay $103 million in damages, fees, interest and expenses for defrauding their business partners regarding a New Jersey apartment complex.

While the court case did not directly affect the Wilfs’ ability to help finance a new publicly subsidized Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis, which began construction last month, the legal proceedings caused Minnesota officials to conduct a last-minute review of the stadium’s financing and exposed the family to a string of unflattering portrayals of how they conducted business.

The Wilfs on Wednesday appealed at least 13 separate court orders, stretching back to 2010, in the long-running case. A New Jersey judge, in summarizing the case last summer, accused the Wilfs of displaying “bad faith and evil motive” in the business deal.

Wednesday’s court filings did not outline the Wilfs’ legal reasoning for the appeal, but lawyers for the Wilfs have previously argued that the damages were too severe and unwarranted, and said the lower court judge made “a number of serious errors” in her legal rulings.

Zygi Wilf also has objected to a judge’s plan to release the family’s financial worth, saying such a move was motivated by an “anti-wealth bias.” The Vikings owner argued in court documents that such a disclosure would also “pose a serious threat to me and my family” because “malicious individuals” could target them for physical attack and extortion.

Mike Kaszuba

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