close
close

How Deion Sanders’ son went bankrupt: ‘Pretty amazing’

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

Bankruptcy.

More than $11 million in debt.

And now there are legal proceedings questioning his wealth and where he keeps it.

How did it even get to this point?

According to his lawyer’s documents, this is mainly because Sanders – son of Colorado coach Deion Sanders – did not appear for a civil trial in Texas in March 2022. But the case raises other questions about that, including why he didn’t do that. whether a lawyer was looking out for him at the time and whether Sanders can use the bankruptcy court to erase that debt as he wishes.

In an effort to find answers to this and many more, USA TODAY Sports reached out to experts in bankruptcy law and civil litigation for their insight. Records obtained by USA TODAY Sports also show that the Dallas County court had difficulty finding where to send Shilo Sanders a notice of trial he missed, resulting in him being awarded a $12 million civil default judgment, followed by his bankruptcy filing. last October.

“There are parts of this story that don’t make sense to me,” said Mechele Dickerson, a law professor at the University of Texas.

Is Shilo Sanders in trouble for missing a court hearing?

In a sense, 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 subsequently sued Shilo Sanders for damages in June 2016.

Colorado Buffaloes safety Shilo Sanders is facing legal trouble following a $12 million civil default judgment against him.Colorado Buffaloes safety Shilo Sanders is facing legal trouble following a $12 million civil default judgment against him.

Colorado Buffaloes safety Shilo Sanders is facing legal trouble following a $12 million civil default judgment against him.

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 “did not have an updated mailing address for defendant Shilo Sanders.” The court tried 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 was transferred to Jackson State, Mississippi.

He did not show up for the trial after not receiving notice to do so. So the court accepted Darjean’s version of events without Shilo Sanders there to challenge 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 attempt to have it forgiven.

Didn’t he have a lawyer to look after him?

He did so before April 2020, but his lawyers subsequently asked to withdraw from the case. They said in the lawsuits that they were “informed by (Shilo) Sanders that he was unwilling or unable to continue to fund the defense of this case.”

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

“In April 2020, Shilo, then a college student, could no longer afford the attorney fees he was required to pay in the lengthy lawsuit with the plaintiff,” Shilo Sanders’ bankruptcy attorney said in a February court filing. “As a result, Shilo’s attorneys withdrew in April 2020, leaving Shilo unrepresented in the action.”

His current attorney also said that Shilo Sanders was not aware of the $12 million judgment until last year. And that is a mystery to Dickerson, the law professor.

“I have to say, given the father’s wealth, it’s kind of baffling that there wasn’t an attorney involved to advise them that you can’t just 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 “thug” and said the security guard was a “con artist.” Deion Sanders was also previously named as a defendant in Darjean’s lawsuit and was accused of parental negligence. In 2017, Deion Sanders left a deposition in the case because he didn’t like the questions he was asked, according to a filing from Darjean’s attorney.

“Approximately three to five minutes into the deposition, the defendant, Deion Sanders, abruptly stood up and refused to answer any further questions and left the witness room and the grounds without permission from the plaintiff’s counsel and the defendant’s counsel,” the statement said. File.

Deion Sanders later won a summary judgment against Darjean, resulting in the claims against him being dropped in January 2019. Shilo Sanders left as a freshman that year to play college football at South Carolina, while Darjean’s lawsuit was still pending against him.

Can Shilo Sanders simply discharge the debts in bankruptcy court?

That’s what he wants. But it’s not that easy because Darjean fights it and tries to collect that judgment.

“People may discharge debts in bankruptcy to provide relief to the honest but unhappy debtor,” said Angela Littwin, a bankruptcy expert and law professor at the University of Texas.

However, there are exceptions to this. One of these concerns ‘intentional and malicious injury’.

“If the bankruptcy court accepts Darjean’s version of events as true or concludes that they are true, the intentional and malicious exception to the discharge may apply,” Littwin said.

Shilo Sanders’ attorneys did not immediately return messages seeking additional comment.

What’s next?

Shilo Sanders’ attorneys recently used bankruptcy proceedings to dispute Darjean’s allegations about what happened in 2015, when Darjean said he wanted to confiscate Sanders’ phone at school.

Sanders’ bankruptcy attorney said in a February court filing 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 justified and appropriate for a security officer of a school, 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. The question now is whether it is too late and he will be burdened with a huge debt.

“We, of course, reserve all rights to present and argue facts and evidence, whether informed or discussed in the state court proceeding (in Texas), in order to litigate the discharge issue in bankruptcy court ,” said one of Shilo’s lawyers. wrote to Darjean’s lawyers in March.

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 until he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado in October, according to his filing. He will enter his final college season this fall and is expected to play in the NFL afterward.

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

Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: [email protected]

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Deion Sanders’ son Shilo’s bankruptcy raises big questions

Back To Top