NBA Players Sports Law

Court Allows Case Between Zion Williamson’s Former And Current Agents To Proceed

Zion Williamson’s former marketing agents who filed a lawsuit against him in circuit court in the State of Florida have been given a small gift. While their case against Williamson in that jurisdiction remains stayed as Williamson’s similar case against the agents (pending in federal court in North Carolina proceeds), they are now free to resume their case in Florida against Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and agent Lisa Josephs Metelus.

CAA was hired by Williamson after he had originally retained plaintiffs Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing LLC. In Ford’s and Prime Sports Marketing’s Complaint, filed in June 21, 2019, the plaintiffs alleged that CAA and Lisa Josephs Metelus committed unlawful tortuous interference with contract/business relationship. In essence, the claim is made that Williamson was stolen from Ford and Prime Sports Marketing as opposed to Williamson deciding to look for new representation on his own volition.

Gaming law and sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach, who has been all over the Williamson litigation in Florida and North Carolina from the start, has some thoughts about how the removal of the stay in Florida, as it concerns CAA and Lisa Josephs Metelus, mucks things up. He notes that it now allows the two cases to proceed simultaneously (even though the main claims concerning Williamson are only proceeding in North Carolina for the time being), it allows discovery in two different courts and it seems inefficient, particularly because if Williamson wins in North Carolina, it could cause the case against CAA in Florida to collapse.

That final point is worth discussing a bit further. Williamson is alleging that he did not breach a contract he had signed with Ford and Prime Sports Marketing because the contract was invalid as it violated the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act on numerous grounds, including but not limited to Ford not being licensed in the State of North Carolina when she made contact with Williamson’s family and that the agreement failed to include the “Warning to Student-Athlete” clause. The Act states, for instance, that failing to hold a certificate of registration renders the agency contract void, and the athlete agent shall return any consideration received under the contract.

Thus, if the federal court in North Carolina finds that there was no valid contract and that the alleged business relationship between Williamson and Ford/Prime Sports Marketing was an illegal business relationship, then one would expect the tortuous inference claims in Florida against CAA to fall flat on their face. However, for now, that claim is allowed to proceed in Florida. With these cases, what is true one day may not remain true the following day.

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.