Athletes Premier International, Inc. v. Hendricks Sports Management
If you are not aware that Aroldis Chapman, the high profile pitching prospect who recently defected from Cuba had switched from Athletes Premier International to the Hendricks Brothers, read this story before going forward.
As is the norm with most news stories these days, this one started with a few tweets. They were courtesy of ESPN Senior Writer, Jorge Arangure, and sent at roughly 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday.
API,Chapman’s previous firm,will soon send out a release announcing a lawsuit they filed today in Massachusetts against Hendricks Brothers
Lawsuit alleges Hendricks tortiously interfered with API’s representation of Chapman
Five hours later, Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press had enough information to run a full story.
The lawsuit accuses Hendricks of tortious interference and unjust enrichment, claiming that Athletes Premier “invested substantial time and hundreds of thousands of dollars” on Chapman’s behalf to help him defect, establish residency in Andorra and begin negotiating with major league teams.
The suit claims that “Hendricks and its employees made material false and disparaging statements to Chapman concerning Athletes Premier and Mejia as well as provided improper enticements to Chapman in order to cause Chapman to terminate his contract with Athletes Premier and sign a contract with Hendricks.”
The AP article also included a quote from Michael McCann, a future panelist at the 2010 UF Sports Law Symposium.
“Generally speaking, players can change agents at their discretion. There is certainly evidence of agents poaching clients (in cases) that don’t result in litigation. Maybe it’s unethical; maybe it’s wrong; but it happens.”
File this under “Saw this one coming.” While I have a problem respecting any agency that uses very shady, unethical tactics to recruit players, I must feel some sorrow for Edwin Mejia and Athletes Premier International. After all, he and his company put their time, money…lives…into Aroldis Chapman, only to be burned before their big payday.
This will be very interesting to watch. It is rare to find an agency vs. agency matter make it to court. These problems are usually handled by the players’ associations and little details make it to the public. If this lawsuit is not settled, it has the potential to add solid new precedent for sports law scholars to peruse. The complaint, filed by Athletes Premier International, inc. in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is embedded below. API has retained the law firm of Greenberg Traurig as its attorneys for this case.