The complex, convoluted Kaiser clown car court case continues.
Twenty-two years after former Broncos owner Edgar Kaiser Jr. initially sued then Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, the right-of-first-refusal legal matters still aren’t resolved.
Kaiser died in 2012, Bowlen in 2019.
However, attorneys representing the Bowlen trustees in Colorado and a company Kaiser created in British Columbia presented their opening arguments Wednesday and will resume the latest lawsuit involving the Broncos on Thursday in a courtroom at Denver’s City Hall.
Is it conceivable that the Broncos could end up with Edgar’s widow Susan Mullen Kaiser or Pat’s daughter Brittany Bowlen as the controlling owner?
Could ex-Broncos quarterbacks John Elway and/or Peyton Manning own minority shares of the franchise?
What becomes of Johnny “Blood Of The City’’ Bowlen and his brother Pat Bowlen Jr. and their sisters Brittany, Annabel “Little Bel’’ Bowlen and Christianna — who Pat Bowlen had with second wife Annabel — and Amie Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace from Pat’s first marriage and Alexandra Casey, a daughter from a Bowlen relationship?
What’s the future of Broncos trustees Joe Ellis, Rich Slivka and Mary Kelly, and Kaiser estate executors Hans Johann Krutzen and Howard Kellough?
Attorney Dan Reilly, who stands for the Broncos’ trustees in this case (and one dismissed in July) and is married to Kelly, was first to submit a statement Wednesday, and Jim Kilroy, a Denver lawyer whose firm has served on behalf of the Canadian interests in this and previous court actions, followed with his rebuttal. Witnesses will be interrogated over the next week in front of district judge Shelley L. Gilman, who was appointed to the bench a year before the court proceedings between Kaiser and Bowlen, who met when they attended the same church, began in 1999.
This issue just gets “curiouser and curiouser,” as Alice shrieked in Wonderland.
Testimony in the lawsuit, brought by the Broncos trustees, won’t be provided by John Bowlen Jr., who is in exile on Elba or somewhere, but provides rants on social media against Broncos’ general manage George Paton (who must wonder how he got dragged into the mess). Two J’s — Jeff Bezos and Jay-Z — won’t receive summonses despite a recent erroneous, ridiculous report that they might buy the Broncos. But Elway’s name will be invoked because Kaiser, who personally was responsible for pulling off the incredible trade for the quarterback, filed suit against his successor after learning that Bowlen had offered Elway 10 percent of the Broncos’ ownership. Elway declined.
Kaiser, who sold the Broncos in 1984 to Bowlen because of his financial problems (losing millions after purchasing the Broncos in 1981), claimed he had, in a contract option, the first right of refusal to buy back in if Bowlen sold shares or the entire franchise. Years in myriad courts concluded with Kaiser losing twice.
Oddly enough, Kaiser purchased a condominium in the building I lived in by Cheesman Park and gave it to Bowlen in the Broncos’ transaction. Each resided there for a brief time and shared dinners during negotiations. Bowlen occasionally invited Kaiser to sit in his stadium suite before all hellacious action broke loose.
The same Kaiser, grandson of a famous and wealthy North American industrialist, once told me on his private plane that he had bulldozed his house on an island off Vancouver so his ex-wife couldn’t live there. He also recorded a John Denver-like CD. In 2005 he started a company called ROFR (Right of First Refusal) Holdings to proceed against Bowlen.
When Forbes Magazine valued the Broncos’ franchise this year at $3.75 billion (an inaccurate overestimation, a Broncos’ executive told me), and reported the franchise would have a new owner in 2022 (Brittany Bowlen or an outsider who would bid in an auction for ownership), ROFR Holdings emerged from the Canadian weeds to allege in a letter it still had first refusal power.
The Broncos’ trustees sued ROFR. Reilly declared in court that since Kaiser and Bowlen had died, any personal agreement would be void and unenforceable. The trustees obviously vehemently are opposed to interference or additional legal activity from ROFR.
The NFL never will approve ROFR Holdings as a prospective owner. The company isn’t worth billions, but certainly would seek a substantial settlement.
The case is byzantine, and the judge’s decision in October will be critical to the Broncos’ ownership plans.
And Pat Bowlen’s legacy doesn’t deserve circus clowns and court jesters.