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Ditka files lawsuit against LG group

Former coach, his attorney seek more than $500,000 from Geneva Hospitality

July 30, 2013 | 02:16 PM
Mike Ditka, former head coach of the Chicago Bears and an ESPN commentator, has filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court claiming that Geneva Hospitality of Lake Geneva LLC failed to pay a $500,782 arbitration award.

Locally, Geneva Hospitality managed The Cove of Lake Geneva, a condominium hotel at 111 Center St.

The hotel is now in receivership.

The Cove continues to operate, but Geneva Hospitality was replaced as manager in November 2012.

Filed on July 18, Ditka asks the court to enter judgment against Geneva Hospitality in confirmation of the arbitration award.

"As of the filing date of this petition, Geneva has not paid any portion of the (money) that it owes Ditka pursuant to the final (arbitration) award, or otherwise complied with the relief awarded to Ditka," the petition states.

Geneva Hospitality signed a contract with Ditka in 2008 that allowed the company to use Ditka's name, voice and likeness to promote Florida vacation resorts.

The petition claims that Geneva Hospitality breached the contract when it failed to make royalty payments to Ditka.

Among the hotels managed by Geneva Hospitality was Ditka's Runaway Resorts in Florida.

Click here to read the court documents.

Sal Sardina of Lake Geneva is listed as president at Geneva Hospitality of Lake Geneva.

Chandra Webster, also of Lake Geneva, is listed as chief financial officer and vice president of Geneva Hospitality.

Unconnected to the situation at the Cove, Ditka filed a demand for arbitration in November 2012 to claim his unpaid royalties.

Geneva Hospitality was notified of the arbitration in November 2012 and again in February 2013, according to court documents. Geneva Hospitality did not respond, the lawsuit claims.

Ditka terminated his contract with Geneva Hospitality in January this year.

On May 21, the arbitration was held without Geneva Hospitality present.

On June 27, 2013, the arbitrator found in Ditka's favor.

Ditka played tight end for the Chicago Bears, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, from 1961 to 1972.

He was head coach of the Chicago Bears from 1982 to 1992, highlighted by the Bears' only Super Bowl victory of 1985. He also coached the New Orleans Saints for three years.

He was inducted in the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1988.

His likeness and persona were made famous by his winning record as coach, his personal appearances, and by various "Saturday Night Live" comedy sketches about "Da Coach."

Geneva Hospitality agreed to pay Ditka a minimum monthly payment of $15,000 while "preserving the integrity" of Ditka's image, the petition states.

According to Ditka's claim, the company failed to make payments beginning in 2011.

Ditka terminated the contract, but, according to the court petition, Geneva Hospitality continued to use his likeness.

According to documents filed with the court, Ditka and his lawyer heard that former guests of the Florida resorts expressed "disillusionment with Ditka personally as a result of their negative experiences," the petition states.

Also named in the legal filing as a plaintiff is Steven T. Mandell, Ditka's attorney.

Mandell claims Geneva Hospitality also failed to pay him $25,000 in royalties for consulting services and attending appearances with Ditka.

The request for court judgment also claims that despite multiple attempts by Ditka's attorney to reach Geneva Hospitality, "Geneva has refused to communicate with either Ditka or Mandell."

Court documents and information from www.courthousenews.com and www.lawbulletin.com.


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