In New Jersey, Vikings owners are expected to learn what they will have to pay former partners.
Washington – Attorneys representing Zygi and Mark Wilf will argue in a New Jersey courtroom this week against their clients having to reveal their net worth and pay nearly $100 million in damages and legal fees to former New Jersey business partners.
In a hearing scheduled to begin Wednesday in Morristown, N.J., the Wilfs, who own the Minnesota Vikings, will learn the final figure they will have to pay Josef Halpern and Ada Reichmann, who sued the family for fraud over a 1980s real estate deal.
Superior Court Judge Deanne Wilson determined in September that brothers Zygi and Mark Wilf, along with their cousin Leonard Wilf, must pay $84.5 million to Halpern and Reichman. When Wilson issues her final judgment, she also will decide whether to accept a recommendation that the Wilfs pay another $15.1 million to cover the plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs associated with the case.
Wilson also is set to reveal the Wilfs’ net worth, after a state appeals court earlier this week denied their request to keep the information sealed. The appeals court allowed the Wilfs to keep their net worth under wraps until a final judgment was rendered in the lawsuit.
In court filings, the Wilfs accused Wilson of harboring an “anti-wealth bias” and argued that making their net worth public could pose a threat to their families and negatively affect their business dealings.
Wilson said she used the Wilfs’ net worth to calculate damages in the real estate case and that the public has a right to know what she based the ruling on.
The Wilfs’ lead attorney, Sheppard Guryan, plans to ask Wilson to delay the release of the net worth, pending a full appeal of the case. The Star Tribune could not reach him for comment Tuesday.
The Wilfs have long fought to keep their wealth private, even as their finances came under heightened public scrutiny.
The National Football League, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority closely monitored the case throughout negotiations on development agreements for the new $975 million Vikings stadium.
Officials feared the New Jersey case and subsequent civil penalties could hinder the Wilfs’ ability to cover their share of the stadium costs.
An independent audit conducted for the authority found that the Wilfs have enough money to pay their part, roughly $477 million of the stadium financing. Their contribution includes a $200 million NFL loan and revenue generated from naming rights, sponsorships and licensing fees.
The Wilfs hope to open the stadium in downtown Minneapolis in time for the start of the 2016 season. Groundbreaking took place last week.
Corey Mitchell is a correspondent in the Star Tribune Washington Bureau. Twitter: @C_C_Mitchell
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