The former head coach of the Real Salt Lake (RSL) Major League Soccer club has filed a lawsuit against the team, claiming it violated the terms of his contract when it fired him approximately 18 months into his three-year contract with RSL and refused to pay the balance of his contract for the remainder of 2019 and all of 2020, which was allegedly required in his contract.
The origins of the controversy between RSL and its coach, Mike Petke, was a two-week suspension that the club levied against Petke because of his actions in an incident with an international official following a Leagues Cup match.
The plaintiff claimed that he signed a contract amendment with RSL leadership, after the incident, which set forth what was expected of him during the suspension and after his return to fulfill his contractual obligations.
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, according to his attorney, Clayton Bailey of Dallas’ Bailey Brauer PLLC. Petke “was blindsided by ownership,” he added.
The complaint further alleged that RSL “rubbed salt in the wound by issuing an inflammatory press release the evening RSL fired Petke.” Furthermore, the next day, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen “provided a TV interview where he painted Petke as lacking certain morals and values, and claiming he was unfit as a person and as a professional.
“… Petke files this complaint against RSL because, among other things, RSL refuses to pay Petke the balance due on the remainder of his three-year contract with RSL. Instead, RSL dictated that Petke either resign and receive $75,000.00 (approximately 11% of what Petke is owed) or be immediately dismissed without any compensation.
“Because of RSL’s conduct, Petke alleges seven causes of action: (1) breach of contract; (2) violation of the duty of good faith and fair dealing; (3) promissory estoppel; (4) quantum merit/unjust enrichment; (5) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (6) defamation; and (7) false light.
“In addition to seeking the remaining approximately $687,500.00 that RSL is contractually obligated to pay him, Petke seeks all other damages to which he is entitled under Utah law, as well as 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 case is Mike Petke vs. Utah Soccer, LLC, d/b/a Real Salt Lake, a Utah Limited liability company, No. 190907265 in the Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County.