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Former coach Mike Petke sues Real Salt Lake for $700k in salary losses, damages

Mike Petke Fielding Questions, March 29, 2017.jpg
Former coach Mike Petke sues Real Salt Lake for $700k in salary losses. (File photo:: KUTV)

(UPDATE 4:26 p.m.) -- Real Salt Lake has released the following statement regarding Petke's lawsuit:

Real Salt Lake (“RSL”) is aware of the lawsuit filed by former head coach Mike Petke. As previously reported by RSL, Mr. Petke’s employment was terminated for cause based upon statements and actions that are unbecoming of RSL representatives, especially our head coach. The organization stands firmly behind that difficult decision. The club will have no further comment on this pending litigation.

(KUTV) -- Citing multiple reasons, namely the remaining balance on his three-year contract with Real Salt Lake, former RSL coach Mike Petke is suing the soccer club for damages.

The complaint, filed Tuesday, says Petke was coerced into:

...publicly resigning so that the owner’s embarrassing and improper conduct could be swept under the rug. Despite the team’s [RSL's] and owner’s [Dell Loy Hansen] outrageous, intentional, and reckless conduct, the coach did not relent and agree to resign because he had previously signed a binding amendment to his employment contract with the team, which expressly provided that the coach would return to his position upon the expiration of his suspension. Consequently, the owner had the team immediately fire the coach and inflict additional, unwarranted economic damages on the coach and his family by refusing to pay the remaining salary the team owed the coach under a three-year contract. The owner also directed the team to execute a publicity campaign designed to damage the coach’s reputation and detrimentally impact the coach’s future job prospects in professional soccer.

The 40-page lawsuit goes on to detail specific details and technicalities regarding Petke's employment contract and his eventual firing.

The lawsuit says: "Although the agreement expressly stipulates that future infractions could result in Petke’s immediate dismissal for cause, RSL removed Petke as head coach the day before his two-week suspension without pay concluded. After brazenly breaching the agreement, RSL rubbed salt in the wound by issuing an inflammatory press release the evening RSL fired Petke. The next day, Hansen provided a TV interview [with KUTV] where he painted Petke as lacking certain morals and values and claiming he was unfit as a person and as a professional."

You can watch our interview with Hansen here;

The complaint cites the following allegations from Petke:

  • Breach of contract
  • Violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing
  • Promissory estoppel;
  • Quantum meruit/unjust enrichment
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress;
  • Defamation
  • False light

In addition to $687,500 Petke says RSL is obligated to pay him, he's also entitled to "exemplary damages, attorney fees, costs, prejudgment and post-judgment interest, and all such other relief to which he may be entitled both at law and equity," the lawsuit states.

You can read the entire 40-page complaint below: