Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams proposed to Erin Marzouki (right) with a $785,000 engagement ring. Now that the marriage is off, Williams is suing to get the ring back. (Photo Courtesy News One)
Money can’t buy Mario Williams love, but it can sure buy huge diamonds — and plenty of lawyers.
Shortly before signing the most lucrative contract ever awarded to a NFL defensive player (6-years, $100 million), Williams proposed to long-time girlfriend Erin Marzouki on February 20, 2012. The custom, platinum engagement ring from Valobra Master Jewelers weighed in at a whopping 10.04 carats for a total of $785,000.
The engagement, however, lasted less than a year as the couple called off wedding plans in January. Now, Williams is suing Marzouki in the District Court of Harris County, Texas to get the ring back (full text of the lawsuit is below).
Specifically, Williams (who is represented by Monica Orlando) is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Marzouki from transferring or disposing of the ring. He is also accusing Marzouki of the tort of conversion, common law fraud, promissory estoppel, and theft.
Marzouki has responded with a lawsuit of her own accusing Williams of harassing her with a frivolous lawsuit. Her lawyer, Tony Buzbee, maintains that Williams has stated on numerous occasions that he wants Marzouki to keep the ring.
Advertisment by Goldin Auctions to sell Kobe's LMHS gear, against his wishes but with the permission of his mother
Kobe Bryant’s mother Pamela is doing her best to auction her son’s basketball memorabilia, including his signature #24 jersey from his freshman year at Lower Merion High School — the only other time he wore the number that inevitably will hang in the rafters of the Staples Center. Only one problem: Kobe filed paperwork with the U.S. District Court for the District of N.J. this week in which he and his wife Vanessa both declare that Pamela does not have permission to do so … and they want his memorabilia with them in Los Angeles. Here’s the chronology of events thus far (all dates (2013):
- January 2: Pamela signs a Consignment Agreement with Goldin Auctions, LLC, a Nevada limited liability company that runs the majority of its business out of Berlin, NJ. In the agreement, Pamela guarantees as consignor that she is the sole owner of all consigned items and warrants she has full and clear title to all of the items in question, amounting to an estimated value of $1.5 million.
- January 3: Goldin Auctions advances $450,000 to Pamela, which she has since spent on a house in Nevada.
- April 30: Goldin Auctions issues a press release titled “Goldin Auctions Presents: The Kobe Bryant Collection” for an auction in June featuring over 100 unique items from Kobe’s childhood, high school career and entry into the NBA.
- April 30: Kobe’s attorney promptly sends a cease and desist letter to Goldin Auctions, (1) representing that the auction items are Kobe’s property and no one else has any rights to them, (2) demanding the immediate return of the Kobe’s personal property, and (3) discontinuing the scheduled June auction.
- May 2: having confirmed with Pamela that she is the sole owner of the property at issue, Goldin Auctions files an action for declaratory judgment that Goldin Auctions has legal ownership of the memorabilia pursuant to the consignment agreement with Pamela, and seeks temporary and preliminary injunctive relief in order to move forward with the auction.
- May 8: Kobe and his wife file declarations in which they affirm that Kobe is the rightful owner of the property and have asked for the return of the property numerous times from Pamela. They even point out that some of the items were last seen in their own house in Los Angeles and have no idea how they ended up back in Philadelphia. Continue reading
Vijay Singh has filed suit against PGA Tour, Inc. for damaging his reputation amid a probe into his use of deer antler spray. (Courtesy: golf.com)
Professional golfer and former Masters winner Vijay Singh has sued the PGA Tour, Inc. (“PGA”), claiming damage to his reputation in the wake of its “deer antler spray” doping probe, which was later dropped. Singh has filed in New York, alleging (1) three claims of negligence, (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, (3) breach of fiduciary duty, (4) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and (5) conversion (for his earnings held in escrow during the appeal process). Singh’s negligence claims rely on the allegations that “the PGA TOUR breached its duty to Singh by failing to determine in a responsible way, and without any scientific examination, whether the Spray in fact fell within the Anti-Doping Program’s definition of ‘banned substance’ and whether the substance ostensibly identified by the UCLA Lab was in fact ‘used’ as defined by the Anti-Doping Program and was thus banned by its own Anti-Doping Program [and that] the PGA TOUR failed competently and responsibly to administer its own Anti-Doping Program.”
Singh points out that PGA “adopted, and continues to rely upon, [the World Anti-Doping Agency’s] Prohibited Substances List for its own Prohibited Substances and Methods List without any independent review, analysis or assessment of the substances, including but not limited to whether the substances actually provide any performance enhancing effect, the chemical, biological or other physical effects of the substances, how the substances are used, how the substances must be used to have the intended physiological effect, and the relevance of the substances to the game of golf.” He also contends that the substance known as IGF-1 (which in certain forms would make its use illegal under the Anti-Doping Program) is biologically inactive in deer antler spray, must be given by injection in order to be effectively absorbed in the human body (Singh elected to spray it in his mouth), and that “scientists have compared the amount of IGF-1 contained in the Spray to the amount contained in a dose of Increlex [a growth drug, which is a biologically active and recombinant form of IGF-1] as pouring a shot of bourbon into an Olympic sized swimming pool and then taking a shot of the pool water compared to taking a straight shot of bourbon.” Continue reading
By Robbie Salaman, J.D.
A bitter carriage dispute between the Tennis Channel and Comcast has required federal intervention.
“Jimbo, can you DVR ABC at 8:00 for me tonight?”
How many times have you asked a roommate that question? Probably a lot more today than you did five years ago. Given the growing use of the DVR, TV ratings have fallen on average across the board. In turn, advertising rates have dropped thereby hurting broadcasters’ bottom line.
The one exception to this trend is sports programming. Sports is the only remaining DVR-proof television property. Sports fans far prefer watching their team play live rather than catching up on the DVR later in the night or reading the box score in the paper the next morning.
The cost of sports programming has risen exponentially over the past decade not only because of the DVR-proof status of sports, but also due to increased competition. New national cable networks like CBSSN, NBCSN and Fox Sports 1 (launching August 17) are all chasing a limited supply of sports programming. Add to that emerging niche-oriented TV channels such as Tennis Channel, BTN and the Pac-12 Networks and one can see how the value of live sports programming has soared. For example, Time Warner (fighting off a stiff challenge from Fox) recently spent over $7 billion to acquire the rights to broadcast LA Dodgers games locally in Los Angeles. The world with only three broadcast channels — ABC, CBS and NBC — is long in the rear view mirror.
The high costs of sports programming along with the introduction of niche channels has caused an increasing number of carriage disputes to develop between broadcasters and distributors.
The Justice Department has joined Floyd Landis (left) in suing his former US Postal Service teammate Lance Armstrong for unjust enrichment as a result of the proceeds Armstrong profited from his now-admitted steroid use.
As expected, the United States Justice Department has intervened in Floyd Landis’ whistleblower suit against Lance Armstrong, United States Postal Service (“USPS”) team director Johan Bruyneel, and team management company Tailwind Sports. The U.S. government filed its complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia this week. The government’s complaint (provided in full below) sets forth the following in seeking treble damages:
Riders on the USPS-sponsored team, including Armstrong, knowingly caused material violations of the sponsorship agreements by regularly and systematically employing banned substances and methods to enhance their performance. . . The USPS paid approximately $40 million to sponsor the USPS cycling team from 1998 through 2004. Because the Defendants’ misconduct undermined the value of the sponsorship to the USPS, the United States suffered damage in that it did not receive the value of the services for which it bargained. Moreover, because they knowingly provided services that materially failed to comply with the USPS sponsorship agreement, the Defendants were unjustly enriched to the extent of the payments and other benefits they received from the USPS, either directly or indirectly. [emphasis added]
Unsurprisingly, the complaint devotes substantial attention to Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and even details specific instances of doping (see pp11-16) and his active efforts to conceal and lie about his usage (see pp17-23). As true as these allegations may be, the fact remains that the government will need to show damages in order to recover the full amount it is demanding under the lawsuit, which could prove difficult given USPS’ success before Armstrong’s professional cycling ban.
LeBron James may have taken a salary cut to play for the Heat, but in "taking his talents to South Beach", he avoided individual state income tax in Florida.
Another exciting tax season has come and gone, as many of our attorney readers can look forward to helping pay the refunds distributed to our indebted law student followers. Most Americans have a relatively simple return in that they live and/or work in the same state throughout the year. Such is not the case for professional athletes. Between trades, away games, and multi-state sponsorship deals, the tax return for a professional athlete can prove to be a true nightmare, subjecting them to what is commonly known as the “jock tax.”
Nick Zotos is an associate with Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP’s New York office. Admitted to practice in New York, Illinois, the District of Columbia, and before the United States Tax Court, Zotos focuses his practice on sports law and business/personal tax planning and has particular experience working with cross-border and expatriation tax issues and representing taxpayers before federal and state audit. Zotos also serves as trustee of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides funding for inner city youth and young adults so that they can experience the benefits of MMA training.
1. Does a professional athlete have to pay tax to every state where he/she plays in a particular season? What methods are commonly utilized to calculate these values?
Constitutional principles mandate that in order for a taxpayer to be subject to State income tax, the taxpayer’s income producing activities must have sufficient minimum contacts or “nexus” with that State. The two main bases for State income taxation are: 1) that the taxpayer has established State “residency” (a technical legal term which varies from state to state), or 2) that the income is generated from in-state business or sources. In the case of professional athletes, their income is generated from the performance of personal services, which generally are sourced where the services are performed. Thus any State where an athlete is paid to compete would have a jurisdictional basis to tax the income earned in that State. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered just how much dough it takes to watch an NFL game among the one-percenters in the luxury suites?
Thanks to a recent lawsuit filed by the Chicago Bears, now we all know. The Bears sued Chicago-based venture capital firm Flynn Enterprises, Inc. in Cook County on Tuesday for breaching a luxury suite licensing agreement. Flynn Enterprises allegedly failed to pay this season’s $173,600 license fee. (entire Complaint below)
But the Bears don’t just want this year’s license fee, they want the entire value of the original contract — and the numbers are astounding.
If Flynn is found to have willfully breached this executive suite license agreement, then it would owe the Bears $1.57 million, plus interest, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees aka, probably the cost of another luxury suite.
Jay-Z wanted a music label, so he became the CEO of Def Jam Recordings, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of Roc Nation. Jay-Z wanted to create a clothing line … enter Roca Wear. Jay-Z wanted to make a name for himself in the bar/lounge scene, so along came his 40/40 Club concept. Jay-Z wanted to become a sports franchise owner, so he invested in a minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets. With no ascertainable unfinished business, Jay-Z’s interests in these ventures have come and gone over the years, and now his empire state of mind is set on another project — his Roc Nation Sports agency. At first blush, this may seem like a gimmick where Jay-Z is just using his name and brand to explore new revenue streams to make his kingdom come, but you can’t knock the hustle! Partnering with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), he is certainly trying to change the game; Yankees second basemen Robinson Cano has already left the infamous Scott Boras to jump on board. Now Jay-Z has announced his intention to move to the agency side of basketball, but it comes at the cost of turning in his ownership stake.
Now for the legal analysis associated with this week’s hot sports news. For all of you contract law junkies out there, such as myself, let’s do a brief exercise in reviewing the NBA’s oh-so-elusive collective bargaining agreement. Ideally, Jay-Z would have had the best of both worlds, but under the Circumvention (Article XIII) provisions of the CBA (taken from the most recent version provided by the National Basketball Players Association), there is reasonable doubt that would have ever been possible.
- “At no time shall there be any agreements or transactions of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), between a player (or any person or entity controlled by, related to, or acting with authority on behalf of, such player) and any Team (or Team Affiliate) … concerning any future Renegotiation, Extension, or amendment of an existing Player Contract, or entry into a new Player Contract ….” Art. XIII (Circumvention), Section 2: No Unauthorized Agreements.
- “‘Team Affiliate’ means [among others] … any individual or entity who or which (directly or indirectly) holds an ownership interest in a Team (other than ownership of publicly-traded securities constituting less than 5% of the ownership interests in a Team)….” Art. I (Definitions).
For this next era in the life and times of S. Carter, who seems to have established a name for himself in every industry he has entered, analysts suspect that he will serve primarily as a figure-head and marketing icon, leaving most of the traditional agent work to the professionals at CAA — much like his ownership role with the Nets organization. Nevertheless, preliminary reports discuss his intention to go through the licensing process for NBPA compliance, which necessitates the sacrifice of his owner status. Whether your an NBA player, coach, fan, agent, owner, or referee, you are sure to learn that the NBA has some rules established for you, and Jay-Z just encountered another. In the grand scheme of things, though, when this venture of his is all said and done, he will have doubled his money and made a stack, and it will be on to the next one.
Let’s be honest, who really needs to invest in a 401k when you can get +400 on Wichita State? Or better yet, what if one of the nation’s top hedge funds could guarantee you double digit returns based not on commodities or foreign markets, but on wagers involving your favorite teams?
With U.S. markets in the tank and an estimated $380 billion already wagered on sports each year, combining sophisticated investment groups and sports betting seems like a no brainer. Now, thanks to Nevada State Senator Greg Brower, the Silver State is one step closer to legalizing sports wagers by private investment groups.
Senator Brower introduced Senate Bill 346 (full text below) on Monday to allow a “licensed sports pool” to place sports wagers in excess of $1,000. Frankly, it is a genius move to protect Nevada’s sports gambling monopoly now that New Jersey is trying to topple it by fighting PASPA in federal court.
Under existing Nevada law, only individuals can place wagers at Nevada sports books.
By Jenelle DeVits, a former NCAA Division I basketball player at the University of New Hampshire and current 3L at Hofstra Law School. Jenelle is the Co-Founder and Director of Finance and Development of GO! Athletes, Inc.
Recently-fired Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice learned the hard way that physical and verbal bullying and harassment can not be tolerated on college campuses.
Tyler Clementi committed suicide two and a half years ago after his Rutgers University roommate videotaped him with another man and put it on the Internet. His suicide brought national attention to a necessary conversation about cyber-bullying and the epidemic of LGBTQ youth suicide. Two months ago, Rutgers University administrators and student leaders joined with the Clementi family to announce the creation of the Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers. At the opening of the Center, Richard L. Edwards, Rutgers University executive vice president for academic affairs, said that “Rutgers has a history of being responsive to the needs of our LGBTQ community, as well as offering forward-thinking scholarly work to impact broader cultural change.”
After such a horrible event, one would think there would be a high level of sensitivity concerning LGBTQ bullying and an increased effort to prevent LGBTQ slurs or derogatory remarks from entering the sphere of any department within Rutgers University — including the athletic department.
Unfortunately, that was not so. Today, one is left wondering what exactly did the Rutgers athletic department learn over the last two and a half years regarding LGBTQ bullying? If we base this answer on the actions of Tim Pernetti, the Athletic Director, and Mike Rice, the former head coach of the men’s basketball team, it seems as though they did not learn anything.