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Cleveland Browns

Kokinis files arbitration suit

By Marla Ridenour Published: December 21, 2009

Former Browns general manager George Kokinis filed arbitration against the Browns before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for breach of contract and
and fraudulent misrepresentation, his law firm announced Monday.

Kokinis is seeking in over $4 million in compensation and damages from the Browns.

Hired on Jan. 23, Kokinis was relieved of his duties on Nov. 2 despite signing a four-year guaranteed contract, according to law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

In his arbitration case, Kokinis said the Browns ''had both breached his employment agreement and fraudulently induced him to join the Browns under the representation that he would be given control over all player personnel matters and report directly to the owner of the team,'' the press release said.

Kokinis contends he was fired because of his unwillingness to defer on important football decisions. Reportedly Kokinis was not in the loop on the Oct. 7 trade of receiver Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets.

"George was shocked by the behavior of the Browns in this matter and sincerely hoped that the team would honor its contract without the need to file an arbitration,'' said Jeffrey L. Kessler, chair of global litigation for Dewey and LeBoeuf LLP. ''But the team has given him no choice. Contracts are meant to be honored, not broken, and there is no basis for the Browns to assert that this is a 'for cause' termination.

''The only 'cause' here is the unwillingness of the team to stand behind the promises that they made to Mr. Kokinis that he would have broad authority over football operations in the face of mounting disagreements over personnel and related issues.

"George does not want to conduct this dispute in public and we are therefore not going to specify the details of the numerous breaches that the Browns committed. However, if the Browns respond publicly with false allegations about George's performance as general manager, as they have threatened to do, we will have no choice but to defend our client's reputation and will have much more to say about the Brown's conduct in connection with this matter."

In a statement, Browns general counsel Fred Nance said, ''We've received it and are reviewing it.''

Browns coach Eric Mangini said little on the Kokinis case.

''That's a legal and league matter, the best person to speak to is Fred Nance.''

Asked if he spoken to Kokinis since he left the team, Mangini said, ''I'm not going to add anything else to it.''

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