Memorabilia Dealer Fights Back Against NFL Agent, Saying He’s No Jerry Maguire
A motion to dismiss has been filed in the lawsuit brought by Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay’s former agent against the owner of a sports memorabilia company. As a reminder, Golladay’s former agent Jason Bernstein and his agency Clarity Sports International sued Redland Sports and Gerry Ochs for intentional interference with their exclusive agreement.
Now, Ochs is fighting back with a motion to dismiss, stating that the first amended complaint filed by the plaintiffs is facially implausible since no contracts were attached to the complaint and claiming that the case was brought for improper purposes.
The motion says that Bernstein is very mistaken to believe that Ochs wields the power to have caused Golladay to terminate his Standard Representation Agreement with Bernstein. Recall that Bernstein’s complaint alleges, in part, that NFL agent Todd France, who ultimately signed Golladay, arranged Golladay’s signing with Ochs for a memorabilia deal and speculated that Ochs was aware that France desired to represent Golladay.
“Gerry Ochs is not ‘Jerry Maguire,'” states the motion to dismiss. “Plaintiff’s contentions are facially implausible (if not ludicrous). This case appears to be nothing more than a spite suit brought by a sports agent who was unable to satisfy his client (an NFL wide receiver), and is now trying to manufacture a name for himself by concocting an elaborate conspiracy theory.”
But even if it could be proven that Ochs interfered with the Standard Representation Agreement between Bernstein and Golladay, Ochs claims that there would be no damages resulting therefrom. Bernstein is still entitled to his commissions resulting from the contract he negotiated on Golladay’s behalf, pursuant to the Standard Representation Agreement that was in place at the time. What Ochs’ motion does not account for are the potential future fees that Bernstein would have collected had the alleged interference not occurred and had Golladay otherwise continued to retain Bernstein. The latter part of that hypothetical is somewhat speculative as it assumes that, but for the alleged interference, Golladay would have remained with Bernstein as his Contract Advisor for his next NFL team contract.
“Relevant to this case, plaintiffs’ claims for tortious interference against defendants ‘puts the cart before the horse’ – it first should be determined in the industry arbitration whether the SRA was wrongfully terminated, and whether CAA and France committed any wrongdoing with respect to the Player, before plaintiffs can accuse any of the named defendants of ‘tortious interference,’” states the motion to dismiss.
Separately, Ochs says that even if the plaintiffs are able to prove tortious interference based on doing a memorabilia deal, the damage is nominal. The most that Golladay could have earned from the autograph signing at issue was $9,000.00, as supported by an exhibit attached to the motion. Ochs reasons that the most money that Clarity Sports would thus be due is 15% (its marketing commission) of the $9,000.00, or $1,350.00, which would be owed by Golladay, not the defendants.
As such, Ochs says the case is suited for a small claims court, not a federal court, where diversity jurisdiction is established when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00.