Wilfs argue bias at play in NJ case

Published 10:13 am Friday, November 1, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is fighting efforts to make his family reveal its net worth in a court proceeding, saying “anti-wealth bias” is at play.

Court papers filed in a New Jersey case argue the Wilfs shouldn’t have to publicly disclose their fortune. It stems from a civil case in which the Wilfs have been ordered to pay $84.5 million to a spurned business partner. The documents were filed in late September but not made public by New Jersey court officials until this week.

The Wilfs contend they aren’t seeking special treatment but that forcing them to bare their finances for all to see is unfair. The court papers contend they could be targets of physical attack or extortion.

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A judge has said the family should disclose its net worth, but offered the chance for appeal first.

The Wilfs legal team says the judge “embraced an anti-wealth bias that gave undue weight to public curiosity. (The) trial court repeatedly commented that wealthy individuals like the Wilfs who work in a business that has high visibility must accept unwarranted invasions of privacy.”

The Wilfs have numerous real estate holdings in addition to majority ownership of the NFL franchise. They have long kept private their financial holdings even as the family won large public subsidies to build a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.