• How Deion Sanders' son ended up declaring bankruptcy: 'Kind of stunning

    From Leroy N. Soetoro@21:1/5 to All on Thu May 30 19:10:02 2024
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    https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2024/05/29/shilo-sanders- deion-sanders-bankruptcy-questions/73888209007/

    As a 24-year-old college football player at the University of Colorado,
    Shilo Sanders has quite a problem on his hands:


    More than $11 million in debt.

    And now there are court proceedings that question his wealth and where
    he’s keeping it.

    How did it even reach this point?

    According to court filings by his attorney, it’s primarily because Sanders
    - son of Colorado coach Deion Sanders – didn’t show up for a civil trial
    in Texas in March 2022. But the case raises other questions about that, including why he didn’t have an attorney looking out for him back then and whether Sanders can use the bankruptcy court to erase that debt as

    In an effort to find some answers to that and more, USA TODAY Sports
    contacted bankruptcy law and civil procedure experts for their insight.
    Records obtained by USA TODAY Sports also show the Dallas County court in question had trouble finding where to send Shilo Sanders any notice of the trial that he missed, leading him to suffer a $12 million civil default judgment as a result, followed by his bankruptcy filing last October.

    “There are parts of this story that make no sense to me,” University of
    Texas law professor Mechele Dickerson said.

    Is Shilo Sanders in this trouble because he missed a court date?
    In a way, yes. But it all stems from an incident in 2015, when Sanders allegedly assaulted a security guard at his high school when Sanders was
    just 15. The security guard, John Darjean, said he suffered permanent
    injuries as a result and then sued Shilo Sanders for damages in June 2016.

    But the case dragged on in court for years. Shortly before it finally went
    to trial in March 2022, the court in Dallas County, Texas noted that it
    had “no updated mailing address for defendant Shilo Sanders.” The court attempted to send a trial notice to Shilo Sanders in February 2022, but
    sent it to his old address in South Carolina, more than a year after he
    had transferred to Jackson State in Mississippi.

    He didn’t show up for the trial after not receiving a notice for it. So
    the court accepted Darjean’s version of events without Shilo Sanders there
    to dispute it - entering a $12 million default judgment against Sanders in favor of the security guard. That debt then led Shilo Sanders to file for bankruptcy last year in an effort to get it discharged.

    Didn’t he have an attorney looking out for him?
    He did before April 2020, but his attorneys asked to withdraw from the
    case after that. They said in court records that they were “informed by
    (Shilo) Sanders that he is unwilling or unable to continue funding the
    defense of this case.”

    If he had kept an attorney on the case, that attorney would have likely received any trial notices to help him avoid such a giant default
    judgment. They then could have disputed the allegations in court, as
    Shilo Sanders and his father had done previously through their attorneys
    in the case.

    “In April 2020, Shilo, an undergraduate college student at the time, could
    no longer afford the attorney fees he was incurring in the protracted litigation with the Plaintiff,” Shilo Sanders’ bankruptcy attorney said in
    a court filing from February. “As a result, Shilo’s attorneys withdrew in
    April 2020, leaving Shilo unrepresented in the action.”

    His current attorney also said Shilo Sanders didn’t know about the $12
    million judgment until last year. And that's puzzling to Dickerson, the
    law professor.

    “I have to say it’s kind of stunning given the wealth of the father that
    there wasn’t a lawyer involved advising them that you can’t just kind of
    ignore a lawsuit,” Dickerson said.

    Did Deion Sanders know about the case?
    Yes. Shortly before Darjean filed his lawsuit in 2016, Deion Sanders
    called Darjean’s allegations a “crock” and said the security guard was a “grifter.” Deion Sanders also previously was named as a defendant in
    Darjean’s lawsuit and was accused of negligence as a parent. In 2017,
    Deion Sanders walked out of a deposition in the case because he didn’t
    like the questions he was being asked, according to a filing by Darjean’s attorney.

    “After approximately three to five minutes of being deposed, the
    Defendant, Deion Sanders abruptly stood up refusing to answer any further questions and left the deposition room and site without the consent of Plaintiff’s counsel and Defendant’s counsel,” the filing stated.

    Deion Sanders later won a summary judgment ruling against Darjean that got
    the claims against him removed in January 2019. Shilo Sanders then left to
    play college football at South Carolina that year as a freshman with
    Darjean’s lawsuit still pending against him.

    Can Shilo Sanders just erase the debt in bankruptcy court?
    That’s what he wants. But it’s not so simple because Darjean is fighting
    it and trying to collect on that judgment.

    “People are allowed to discharge debts in bankruptcy to give relief to the honest but unfortunate debtor,” said Angela Littwin, a bankruptcy expert
    and law professor at the University of Texas.

    However, there are exceptions to this. One involves “willful and malicious injury.”

    “If the bankruptcy court takes Darjean's version of events as true or
    finds that they are true, then the willful and malicious exception to
    discharge may apply,” Littwin said.

    Shilo Sanders’ attorneys didn’t immediately return messages seeking
    additional comment.

    What's next?
    Shilo Sanders' attorneys recently used bankruptcy court proceedings to
    dispute Darjean’s allegations about what happened in 2015, when Darjean
    said he was trying to confiscate Sanders’ phone at school.

    Sanders’ bankruptcy attorney said in a court filing from February that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services “found that the
    Plaintiff (Darjean) acted with unreasonable and unwarranted aggression, exceeding the amount of force warranted and appropriate for a school
    security officer, and that there was `Reason to Believe that the fifteen
    year old child, Shilo Sanders, was inappropriately disciplined by the [Plaintiff] security guard at his school.’”

    That’s the kind of evidence that would have helped Shilo Sanders at trial
    in 2022. Now the question is whether it’s too late and he’ll be burdened
    by a massive debt.

    "We obviously reserve all rights to raise and argue any facts and
    evidence, regardless of whether it was briefed or argued about in the
    state court proceeding (in Texas), in order to litigate the discharge
    issue in bankruptcy court," one of Shilo's attorneys wrote in March to Darjean's attorneys.

    After joining Colorado as a graduate student, Shilo Sanders was Colorado’s leading tackler in 2023. He had a gross income of $193,713 in 2023, up to
    when he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado in October, according
    to his filing. He is entering his final college season this fall and is expected to play in the NFL after that.

    The University of Colorado said Shilo and Deion Sanders declined comment.

    Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: bschrotenb@usatoday.com

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