An Epic Lawsuit: Agency Asks For $10 Million Based On Scheme To Steal NFL Players
The newest high profile sports agent dispute is about to play out in a New York court of law. On November 15, SoFla Sports, LLC filed a Complaint against Entertainers & Players Innovative Consultants, LLC (EPIC) and NFL agent Ronald Butler, seeking more than $10 million in damages.
Allan Guertin, the sole owner of SoFla Sports, allegedly began communicating with Alex Gavilla, the owner and CEO of EPIC, in May 2017. The discussion included a possibility that Gavilla would invest between $500,000 and $700,000 into SoFla Sports along with a merger of the companies. Apparently, that particular discussion went on for several months.
SoFla Sports says that it was unaware that EPIC was engaging in conversations with Butler at the same time. Butler was employed by SoFla while communications were ongoing.
The main gripe that SoFla Sports complains about in its lawsuit is a claim that EPIC and Butler engaged in a scheme to steal SoFla Sports clients. The lawsuit states that Butler entered into business relations with other NFL agents, including at least one agent employed by EPIC, “for the sole purpose of diverting and otherwise depriving SoFla of fees and commissions to which it was and is entitled.”
Ultimately, Butler joined EPIC as a partner in 2018. Approximately fifteen NFL players have since terminated their relationships with SoFla Sports and signed with EPIC. SoFla Sports says that it will lose more than $2 million in fees that it would have otherwise received based on the players departing to a rival agency.
SoFla Sports uses Houston Texans safety Kareem Jackson as an example in its Complaint. It says that Butler has directed Jackson’s financial advisor to pay him all agent fees and that Butler has withheld commissions owed to SoFla Sports under Butler’s former employment agreement with the company.
Other NFL players who have left SoFla Sports to sign with EPIC include Patrick Robinson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman, Corey Liuget, David Sharpe, Travis Benjamin and Lavonte David.
Additionally, SoFla Sports admits that it laid out funds to provide marketing advances for many NFL players that have yet to be repaid, and it wants to hold Butler responsible for same. Those advances include $20,000 to Mike Gillislee, $50,000 to Corn Elder, $40,000 to Damontae Kazee and $35,000 to Elijah McGuire. EPIC is now advertising that those players to also have switched over from SoFla Sports.
Butler’s lawyer Pat Lawlor says that the allegations in the complaint are absolutely false and claims that Butler did not team up with EPIC until after Butler parted ways with SoFla Sports. Lawlor is convinced that SoFla Sports’ lawsuit was filed in retaliation after Butler filed a separate but similar case in Broward County, Florida.