Joe Ellis, Pat Bowlen

Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, left, and Joe Ellis, with the Broncos, arrive for negotiations with the NFL Players Association involving a federal mediator Friday, March 11, 2011 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Bowlen Sports Inc. and PDB Sports, the parent companies of the Broncos, filed a suit Monday against the team's former owner, Edgar Kaiser, and his estate wanting a Denver County District Court judge to rule that Kaiser no longer has the right of refusal to buy the team. This was first reported by 9News.

Kaiser, who died in 2012, sold the team to Pat Bowlen in 1984. The two have gone to court in the past, with Kaiser suing Bowlen in 1999 over the right of first refusal, which Bowlen won. 

This lawsuit, though, is a result of a letter the Broncos' parent companies received in May 2020 from Right of First Refusal Holdings, which stated it had the right to match the terms of an offer in the event the team was sold. ROFR was named a defendant in the suit, along with Kaiser's widow Susan Mullen Kaiser, Twelve LLC and two executor trustees of the Kaiser estate. 

The lawsuit by the Broncos was put in motion in hopes of making the transition of ownership — whether that be to one of the Bowlen children or the franchise being sold — a smooth one. Essentially, this will ensure Kaiser's estate does not interfere. 

“This lawsuit is a proactive, necessary step to ensure an efficient transition of ownership whether the team remains in the Bowlen family or is sold,’’ Dan Reilly said in a statement. Reilly represents the Broncos’ companies and the trustees. “We are confident that the court will find the right of first refusal is no longer enforceable, consistent with Colorado law and the intentions of Pat Bowlen and Edgar Kaiser in their written agreement more than 36 years ago.’’

This comes at the same time Pat Bowlen's children fight over the future ownership of the team, after Bowlen died in June 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's.

This summer, the Bowlen trustees — Joe Ellis, Rich Silvka and Mary Kelly — will be going up against Bowlen's eldest daughters, Amie Bowlen Klemmer and Beth Bowlen Wallace, in a trial that the daughters hope to prove their father lacked mental capacity in 2009 when he executed his estate and left the team in the trustees' hands. The eldest daughters implied in November they would consider selling the team if they win the case, while the trustees have made it clear they would likely name Brittany Bowlen, the youngest daughter, the team's next owner.

The trial for Bowlen daughters vs the trustees is set for July 12.

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