The Charlotte Observer
LOUISIANA SHERIFF SEIZES HORNETS GEAR
SHREVEPORT, La. - The Charlotte Hornets returned home this morning from their World Football League game here, but their equipment did not. It was confiscated by Caddo Parish Sheriff Jimmy Goslin in compliance with a lawsuit filed against the Hornets by plaintiffs in New York.
The suit charges the Hornets with failure to pay $26,216 it accumulated in debts while the club was located in New York for the first half of this season. Although the club has changed management, the plaintiffs, believed to a security firm and a cleaning establishment, fell new president-general manager Upton Bell remains liable for the money.
Goslin received the court order from U.S. District Judge James Clarke during the day, and apparently could have claimed the equipment immediately and stopped the playing of the game if he had so desired. but Hornet officials said he told them that he was delaying serving the writ of attachment because he wanted the game to go ahead as scheduled.
Goslin served the paper on Hornet business manager Ken Bobdanoff at halftime and not on Bell, who did not make the trip. the writ seeks garnishment of Charlotte's and the WFL's share of gates receipts in order to meet the payment demands, and the sheriff seized the equipment as security.
Apparently, only another court order could have stopped the claiming of the equipment, and the time of the day prevent that. The players were permitted to take all their personal effects, including their football shoes, which they pay for, but when the remainder of the equipment can be flown to Charlotte is uncertain.
EQUIPMENT manager Mike Ferraro and trainer Lew Cohen were planning on staying over to watch over their goods. Immediately after the players had dressed into their street clots the locker room was padlocked.
A delay in settling the matter and sending the equipment to Charlotte would greatly inhibit Hornet practices, which are scheduled to resume Friday.
Apparently, a Louisiana "long-arm" stature allowed the N.Y. plaintiffs to file a non-resident suit on the Hornets while the were here. "It's called the non-residence attachment process," explained a Shreveport lawyer who was in the press box during the game. "it places jurisdiction in a Louisiana court over a firm when it is in the state and transacting business. The Hornets are in the state and transacting business.
"I don't think this could have happened in North Carolina."
According to a local Shreveport court reporter who saw the legal papers, Rodney Ryan Jr., a Baton Rouge lawyer handled the case for the New York plaintiffs. They had to post a bond of $40,000 in court, payable to the Hornets if the suit does not hold up in courts.
The cleaning firm is seeking $10,934 and the security group $15,276.
Sheriff Goslin visited the Hornet motel here 45 minutes prior to their departure to State Fair ground Stadium and informed them that their uniforms, pads, medical supplies and footballs would remain here.
The move was a completer surprise. Everyone thought Shreveport was the troubled team before the game. The Steamer players were to receive all gate receipts from the game in order to pay fro two games in back salaries.
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