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Buffalo Jills lawsuit persists

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Photo from www.buffalojills.com
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Even after the Oakland Raiders agreed to pay their cheerleaders, six former Buffalo Jills are still fighting for some pay for their time performing at football games.

With continuing interest like a story in The New York Times, the case won't go away, with State Supreme Court Justice Timothy Drury refusing to end the lawsuit against the team, ruling the Buffalo Bills controlled hiring and approved contracts with the third-party company for which the cheerleaders actually worked.  

The judge is considering whether the National Football League should be brought into the lawsuit since evidence shows NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had signed off on the contract.

The case is due back in court next week. Lawyer for the Jill cheerleader, Sean Cooney, said he wants to deal with the Bills.

"I thought that the settlement of the Oakland case was an indication that the NFL and the NFL teams would want to put this chapter behind them but we have not been successful in scheduling a mediation here in our case. I still hope it happens and so do my clients," said Cooney.

The Oakland Raiders agreed to pay members of their cheerleading squad, the Raiderettes, minimum wage and overtime.

The Buffalo Jills weren't paid anything and had to dole out $650 for their uniform and another $50 to audition and perform for sponsors. 

If there is no resolution soon, the next phase would be discovery searching at records and interviewing team officials and potentially adding more Buffalo Jills as plaintiffs.

Terry and Kim Pegula purchased the Buffalo Bills and became official team owners in October.

At an October 10th news conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium, WBFO's Eileen Buckley asked Pegula about the lawsuit.

"Mr. Pegula, any chance of resolving the Buffalo Jills. Would you like to see them back on the field as well?," asked Buckley, during a news conference introducing Pegula as the new owner.

"I, Russ." said Pegula. "I'll answer that," responded Russ Brandon, Buffalo Bills President and former Chief Executive jumped in to answer the question.

"It's obviously in litigation and that is something we can't speak to right now," said Brandon. 

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.