Larry Sanders’ old agent loses suit, improprieties alleged

In an Oct. 9 ruling, Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten of the Supreme Court of New York, New York County, dismissed a lawsuit brought by Andy Miller and ASM Sports against Happy Walters and Dan Fegan of Relativity Media and Rogue Sports. The suit essentially claimed that Walters and Fegan stole Larry Sanders as a client from Miller using “unfair competition”. Those back-dealings reportedly included Fegan and Walters offering to pay a close confidant of Sanders, Seth Willmot, and a former girlfriend/childhood friend, Cree Nix, a portion of the commission for their work managing Sanders.

Sanders chose Miller and ASM Sports as his representation before his second season in December 2011.  Miller represented for two seasons until Sanders became eligible for a contract extension in the summer of 2013 and switched to Walters and Fegan shortly before signing the new deal. Since Sanders did not sign any new contracts during those two seasons, Miller did not receive any payment for the 20 months during which he represented Sanders.

From the decision:

“On July 16, 2013, Miller and Sanders met in Las Vegas. During the dinner, Sanders allegedly exhibited a “belligerent” attitude and demanded that Willmot receive 1% of Sanders’ total contract (or 25% of Miller’s own 4% fee) in his role as Sanders’ “manager”. When Miller rejected Sanders’ proposal, Sanders explained that he planned to meet with Defendant Fegan later that evening and that Fegan indicated that he would agree to such a deal. Sanders also recounted a number of statements made to him by Defendant Fegan, including that Sanders was a “max player”, i.e. a player that could secure the maximum amount of compensation permissible in the NBA. In addition, Fegan allegedly stated that he would get Sanders acting roles and secure acting lessons for Willmot.

After the dinner, Miller continued contract negotiations on behalf of Sanders. On July 25, 2013, Miller negotiated a $41 million contract for Sanders. Nonetheless, that evening, Willmot called Miller to inform him that Sanders was terminating Miller due to his failure to agree to give Willmot the 1%, i.e. the 1% of Sanders’ total contract that was requested during the Las Vegas dinner. The next day, Sanders faxed a termination notice to Miller.

Shortly thereafter, Miller learned that Sanders hired Walters and Fagen [sic] as his agents. Plaintiffs contend that Sanders then signed a contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks for $44 million over four years.”

The plaintiffs claim that Nix played a role similar to Willmot, in that she was offered 1% (i.e., $440,000) if she would try to convince Sanders to leave Miller and join Walters and Fegan. But in the sworn affadavit of J.R. Hensley, general counsel of ASM Sports, Hensley re-words the allegation and adds a footnote expressing that fact,

“On June 21, 2013, Sanders came to New York for a meeting with Miller and Grossman. Sanders brought Cree Nix, an ex-girlfriend, with him to that meeting. Upon information and belief, Nix was approached by Walters and Fegan and offered a job and 1% of the commission to re-enter Sanders’ life and help lure him away from Miller. Again, to avoid any lack of clarity, Plaintiffs allege upon information and belief that Defendants paid Nix to have sexual relations with Sanders in order to gain influence with him and help Defendants lure him away from Miller.”

The affadavit adds the following footnote to the previous accusation:

Defendants’ motion has had the unfortunate effect of requiring Plaintiffs to state allegations such as this expressly here, in plain words, lest the more tactful formulation asserted in the Complaint (e.g., that Defendants paid Nix to re-enter Sanders’ life) be misconstrued as something less outrageous that what actually occurred.

Essentially, the suit claimed that Walters and Fegan swooped in at the last minute before the contract extension was about to be executed, got Sanders hooked on the notion of getting max or close to max money, and offered half of their commission to Sanders’ inner circle.

The suit was dismissed two weeks ago, not so much because any of these claims were disputed or disproven, but more so because none of them amounted to illegal maneuvers according to the tort laws of the State of New York.

The original complaint also stated that Nix was terminated in her role by Walters and Fagen because of the fact that they would then lose money on Sanders due to the lawsuit.

In addition, the original complaint also asserted that during his stint as agent, Miller worked with Scott Skiles on issues of Sanders’ training, and that Miller “made sure that Sanders’ attitude in other areas improved, most notably decreasing the amount of time that Sanders spent partying”.

Miller also claimed that he helped negotiate a $50,000 advance from the Bucks to Sanders so that Sanders could pay a fine to the NBA that he had incurred, presumably during the “Thumbs Up” stretch of games that earned him $95,000 in NBA fines in 10 days.

(h/t New York Law Journal)

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