Athletes named in rent lawsuit Ohio company claims 6 current, ex-Ravens are $55,000 in arrears

August 07, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

A Cleveland-based company that leases luxury apartments to members of the Baltimore Ravens is suing six current and former players, claiming the athletes owe the company $55,000 in overdue rent, phone, utility and cleaning service bills.

The suits, filed in Baltimore County courts by Bridgestreet Accommodations Inc., range from $2,100 in rent allegedly owed by center Wally Williams, to $27,000 being sought from wide receiver Floyd Turner.

The suits also name Ravens players Jeff Blackshear and Jonathan Ogden, and two former Ravens players, Bam Morris and Dexter Daniels. The apartments are in Owings Mills, except for an apartment rented by Morris at the luxury Harbor View apartments at the Inner Harbor.

A lawyer for the Ravens, and some of the players, said they disagree with allegations made in the lawsuits.

"There are legitimate disputes about this issue on the players' side," said attorney Jamie Dunbar of the law firm Venable, Baetjer and Howard. "We had started efforts to see if the parties could get together and resolve the differences of opinion. Before they were able to accomplish anything, Bridgestreet decided to proceed with court action."

Rita Pesecky, spokeswoman for Bridgestreet, declined to discuss the cases. Barton J. Sidle, a Towson lawyer for the rental company, also declined to comment.

Court records filed in Baltimore County show:

Turner, who will earn $325,000 this year, is being sued in Baltimore County Circuit Court for $27,000 for lawyers' fees and back rent for several months in 1996 and 1997 at a two-bedroom apartment in the 4900 block of Lyon Heart Drive in Owings Mills.

Court records show that Turner signed a one-year lease in August 1996, agreeing to pay $20,400, at $1,700 a month. Unpaid bills include $807 in long-distance phone calls and $2,031 for unspecified "missing items."

This week Turner said, "I don't owe them anything because there was an understanding that the lease was for six months and, when I moved, as long as I gave them notice, they would rent the place out to someone else.

"I gave them notice. I didn't live there, and I didn't use their facilities because I was living in Texas. They are trying to charge us because they were unable to lease it out."

He said he plans to fight the suit in court. "Because you're a professional athlete, people think they can take advantage of you. But their services were neither provided nor used. This is one professional athlete who can read."

Offensive lineman Ogden, who earns $2.2 million a year, is being sued in Baltimore County District Court for $12,602 in rent, utilities and long-distance phone charges for an apartment in the 10000 block of Cascade Falls Court in Owings Mills from February to August 1997. Ogden said, "I got my people handling it. The only thing I have to say is that they sue a lot of people on this team."

Running back Morris, who signed with the Chicago Bears this week for a one-year, $400,000 contract, has been ordered by Baltimore County District Court to pay a $3,071 judgment for unpaid rent, cleaning services and long-distance phone calls for two months in 1996 when he rented a waterfront apartment in Harbor View.

Morris was served with the lawsuit this year while in a Texas jail for failing to meet with his probation officer after a marijuana conviction. A Chicago Bears spokesman said Morris declined to comment.

Offensive lineman Blackshear, who will earn $600,000 this year, is being sued in Baltimore County District Court for $4,995 in unpaid rent and long-distance calls for an apartment in the 4800 block of Lyons Heart Drive in Owings Mills he rented in 1996 and 1997. When contacted this week, Blackshear said, "I don't know anything about it. I'll have my attorney look into it. I'm on the football field and trying to stay focused. I don't want anything distracting me."

Center Williams, who will make $3.062 million this year, is being sued for $2,100 in unpaid rent in 1997 for an Owings Mills apartment in the 4300 block of Flint Hill Drive. Williams could not be reached for comment. Calls to his agent went unanswered.

Former linebacker Daniels, who made $131,000 in 1996, is being sued in Baltimore County District Court for $3,317 in unpaid rent, long-distance calls and cleaning services for an apartment in the 4300 block of Flint Hill Drive in Owings Mills that he rented for three months in late 1996 and early 1997. Daniels, no longer a player with the NFL, could not be reached for comment. Calls to his agent went unanswered.

Sun staff writer Mike Preston contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 8/07/98

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