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NFL players' union sues coaches' union in DC court

WASHINGTON — In a legal skirmish between unions, the NFL Players Association is suing the NFL Coaches Association in D.C. Superior Court for about $650,000.

The NFLPA's complaint says it loaned the coaches' group that amount "to cover payroll and other NFLCA expenses." The players' union is also asking the court to determine whether NFLCA executive director David Cornwell was "lawfully elected" to that post.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the lawsuit is "about settling that debt, nothing more."

"The NFLCA has made it explicitly clear that they were interested in severing official ties with the NFLPA. As one example, they no longer wanted to be housed here," Atallah said. "A significant debt was accumulated as a result of our support to them over the years. The current NFLCA leadership doesn't want to settle the debt."

In a statement, Cornwell said "the lawsuit and the alleged debt is a smoke screen to prevent the NFLCA from breaking away from the NFLPA. I have seen no evidence that the NFLPA sought to collect this alleged debt when they thought De controlled the Coaches Association."

Cornwell added that "the players we coach are acting against our interests through their union."

Cornwell is a lawyer who has represented the NFL and several prominent players, including Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He also was a candidate in 2009 to become executive director of the NFLPA, a job that went to DeMaurice Smith.

The NFLPA complaint, which was filed in court Tuesday, says it has "custody and control" of an NFLCA bank account in New York, "which currently has a balance of $308,509.69."

The complaint says the NFLPA "has provided office space, staff, administrative services and financial support to the NFLCA" for more than 10 years, and has "advanced more than $650,324.88 in funds to the NFLCA."