Raiders' litigious Al Davis hit by suit that seeks his ouster

Updated: October 14, 2003, 8:36 PM ET

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Al Davis, the court-happy impresario of the Oakland Raiders, has met a lawsuit he doesn't like.

The family of a team co-founder who hired Davis decades ago is claiming in Alameda County court that he has plundered the franchise for perks that include a private jet and interior decorating at his Palm Springs vacation home.

The family claims Davis has mismanaged team finances and compromised the family's one-third ownership in the Raiders -- a portion worth hundreds of millions of dollars. What's more, the family says, the team is illegally denying access to its financial books as heirs try to calculate the taxable value of their stake.

For these alleged transgressions, Davis should be replaced as the team's general partner, according to the lawsuit.

Team officials on Tuesday downplayed the case in an e-mailed response to questions.

"This is a frivolous lawsuit without merit that was filed by disgruntled representatives of an estate," team general counsel Jeff Birren said.

The relatives of the Raiders' co-founder, the late E.W. McGah, are definitely upset. They have already extended a federal deadline to pay estate taxes on the 31 percent share of the Raiders they inherited from McGah's son because they don't know how much it's worth, according to family lawyer Neil Papiano.

Indeed, it was E.W. McGah -- whose son E.J. McGah died in 2002 -- who made Davis a general partner in 1966.

Since then, Davis has led his team to three Super Bowl titles as either the Oakland or Los Angeles Raiders.

He also has led the league in lawsuits, spending tens of millions on lawyer fees to sue the NFL, the city of Oakland, other teams and even the Internal Revenue Service over everything from the opportunity to move the franchise to the design of opposition uniforms.

In August, the Raiders scored a partial victory when a jury awarded the team $34.2 million from the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, which lured the team back from Los Angeles eight years ago on false promises of a packed stadium. Lawyers for the coliseum on Friday asked a Sacramento County judge to reconsider that judgment, a request the Raiders dismissed as a rehashing of failed arguments.

Davis grabs headlines as the team's iconic executive -- his "Just win, baby!" maxim is an NFL refrain -- but he doesn't own the team outright.

He just acts like it, according to the McGah lawsuit.

Davis used team funds to provide cars and accommodations to his brother, to buy "expensive suites and floor season tickets" to NBA games and to send a staff member to Palm Springs to redecorate his vacation home, according to papers filed Friday.

His "management practices have resulted in the Raiders franchise losing substantial sums of money," the lawsuit claims, citing the limited documents the team has turned over.

Phone messages for plaintiffs Barbara McGah and Sherratt Reicher, E.W. McGah's adult grandson and a co-trustee of the estate, were not returned Tuesday.

The suit names both Davis and A.D. Football Inc., the Davis-controlled corporation that runs the team, and says for the past 10 months they have refused to grant access to partnership records the plaintiffs are legally entitled to review.

The plaintiffs say they have a right to review the books regardless of reason -- but that the tax deadline adds time pressure.

"We're not going to sign something that says this is one of our best guesses" of the 31 percent stake in the team, Papiano said. "Try that on your return."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index