A federal appeals court ruled in San Francisco Monday that the estate and widow of the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis are liable for about $2.5 million in taxes from the 1990s.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected a lawsuit that Al and Carol Davis filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco a few months before Al Davis died on Oct. 8, 2011.
The lawsuit challenged income tax assessments issued by the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service in 2007 amounting to $501,661 for 1990, $1,820,400 for 1992, and $159,287 for 1995.
The assessments have been paid as a result of the IRS taking those amounts out of refunds due to the Davises for earlier years, the court noted.
The couple claimed the assessments were not valid because the IRS did not abide by a 2005 settlement that required the agency to give Davis and other Raiders partners 90 days to review the IRS’s calculations for their proposed tax liabilities in the early 1990s.
The appeals court said the IRS did fail to provide the required review time in 2007, but said that action didn’t invalidate the assessments themselves.
Instead, the panel said in a ruling written by Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz, Davis could have, but failed to, file an administrative claim or a lawsuit seeking a refund.
In addition, Hurwitz wrote, Davis could also have sought financial damages for the extra cost of challenging the assessments under those procedures.
“Again, he did not,” Hurwitz wrote.
“Instead, he threw a Hail Mary and sought a full refund. That pass falls incomplete,” Hurwitz said in the ruling.
The court noted in a footnote that “Davis and the Raiders were hardly strangers to the courts.” Some of the previous litigation in which David and the Raiders were embroiled included an antitrust lawsuit that enabled the team to move to Los Angeles in 1982 and an eminent domain lawsuit in which the city of Oakland unsuccessfully sought to block the move.
After the team returned to Oakland in 1995, it sued the National Football League in 1999 for allegedly having undermined its plans to build a new stadium in the Los Angeles area and failing to compensate it for the opportunity to replace the Raiders in Los Angeles.
The Raiders eventually lost that case in the California Supreme Court in 2007.