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Bowlen Trust files motion requesting NFL serve as arbitrator in Broncos ownership dispute

Posted at 5:02 PM, Nov 23, 2018

DENVER -- The three-person trust which runs the Broncos submitted a response Friday in Colorado District Court a month after a brother of owner Pat Bowlen filed a lawsuit requesting the trustees be removed from power.

In a statement, Dan Reilly, the lawyer for the trustees, said: “We have requested that the NFL accept our arbitration of this private family matter per the league’s constitution and bylaws on ownership disputes, and we have filed a motion to stay the legal proceedings pending this ruling. The trustees will continue to implement Pat Bowlen’s succession plan.”

Since 2014, Joe Ellis, Rich Slivka and Mary Kelly have served as trustees for the Pat D. Bowlen Trust. Ellis, as the Broncos’ president and CEO, is the team’s point person at league meetings and runs the team’s day-to-day operations. The trustees originally had 20 days to respond to the lawsuit but were granted a one week extension.

On Oct. 25, Bill Bowlen filed suit in Colorado District Court requesting to remove the three-person trust “due to their failure to uphold Pat Bowlen’s wishes and act in the best interest of Pat Bowlen, his family and the Broncos.”

In the lawsuit, Bill Bowlen said the trustees “have conflicts of interest that impair their ability to act impartially in Pat Bowlen’s best interest.” He also wanted the trust removed as Pat Bowlen’s power of attorney. Read more from our partners at The Denver Post

Bill Bowlen's camp has 21 days to respond to the motion, at which point the trust has another 15 days to respond, according to Broncos Insider Troy Renck. 

Giovanni Ruscitti, the attorney for Bill Bowlen and Beth Bowlen Wallance, said the following after getting news about the arbitration Friday: 

"While we have 21 days to file a response to their motion to stay, we expect to file a response in the very near future and Bill intends to vigorously oppose the request to delay these important proceedings.” 

He continues, "The trustees’ filing Conflates (sic) the legal issues, as the issues raised in Bill Bowlen’s complaint are very different than the arbitration they just filed, and it appears to be a delay tactic designed to avoid having the issues raised in Bill’s complaint resolved in a timely manner." 

By Friday night, Beth Bowlen Wallace herself responded to trustees' request for NFL arbitration. Her full statement is below: 

"This case is between Bill Bowlen and the trustees and it needs to be resolved in a timely manner. My sister Amie and I are disappointed that the trustees have taken what appears to be a delay tactic with this filing. We have spent several years attempting to gain a better understanding of my father’s estate plan. We offered to mediate with the trustees, but they have consistently declined that opportunity.

We have never seen a copy of my father’s trust or the succession plan; we have had to rely solely on what the trustees have verbally told us over the past 10 years. We have both reached the age of financial maturity communicated through my father’s estate plan. We have concerns regarding the validity of the current trust as we recently learned my father’s original trust was revoked and replaced after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

While we welcome the opportunity to find a solution with the trustees, we need their good faith and cooperation. It is our number one priority to protect and preserve our father’s legacy and to fulfill our father wishes.

I have fulfilled the educational and employment requirements as set out in their Controlling Owner criteria. I have reached the age of financial maturity my father always expressed. And I have a plan to move this organization forward. I have no doubt my father would be proud of my accomplishments.

Our father, this organization and the Denver Bronco fans deserve better than what we have seen from the trustees and their attorneys."

Renck wrote more about Bill Bowlen's lawsuit here