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Basketball Agent Aaron Mintz Awarded $85,000 For Emotional Distress Caused By Priority Sports

In March, I learned that basketball agent Aaron Mintz had left long-time employer Priority Sports and Entertainment in favor of joining the basketball division at Creative Artists Agency.  At the time, Mintz said, “this is just an unbelievable opportunity for me…I couldn’t be more excited.”

That excitement never disappeared; however, Mintz would soon become occupied by not only building his new practice, but also fighting lawsuits against his former employer.  Mintz sued Priority Sports.  Priority Sports countersued.  The issue over the enforceability of the non-compete clause in Mintz’s employment contract with Priority Sports was never determined (Priority Sports dropped the claim), but we took some time to discuss the choice of law provision.

Kris Humphries’ business manager signed a declaration stating that Priority Sports’ President of Athlete Representation called Mintz an idiot for accessing his personal e-mail account from a company computer.  The Court then noted that there was no dispute that at the direction of Priority Sport’s senior counsel, a Priority Sports employee accessed Mintz’s Gmail account without permission, and viewed the contents of several emails, including Mintz’s employment agreement with CAA.

The main matter left to determine at trial was the amount of damages sustained by Mintz based on Priority Sports’ invasion of Mintz’s privacy and violation of the California Computer Data Access & Fraud Act stemming from the company’s access of Mintz’s personal email account.  And last week, the jury awarded Mintz $85,000 ($80,000 based on prior emotional distress and $5,000 for contemplated future emotional distress).

“We are more than satisfied with the verdict.” said Skip Miller of Miller Barondess, LLP and counsel to Aaron Mintz during the trial phase of the litigation.  “Aaron was completely vindicated.  The only real harm was the emotional distress based on Aaron having his personal Gmail account hacked into.  $85,000 does the trick.”

Miller mentioned that Priority Sports cross-examined Mintz for about 3 hours concerning his emotional distress to try to make the argument that he had none.  “The jury just didn’t buy the lack of emotional distress argument,” explained Miller.  “This is a wonderful result for Aaron’s career and CAA.  The weight of the world is off Aaron’s shoulders.”

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.