Of Counsel Andy Lee has persuaded a California federal judge to disqualify the opposing counsel for an NFL player who is suing his former agent for allegedly failing to alleviate NFL teams’ concerns over a knee injury the player suffered in high school.
Lee, who represents NFL player agency Sportstars Inc. and agent Ronald Slavin II, had argued that Peter R. Ginsberg, the lawyer representing player J.R. Reed in a $1 million malpractice suit against Sportstars and Slavin, has knowledge of the agency’s inner workings after representing it in a variety of matters over the years.
In a Jan. 13 order, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald ruled that Ginsberg and his firm, Michelman & Robinson, cannot represent Reed because Ginsberg had represented Sportstars in the negotiation of Slavin’s employment contract, in arbitration before the NFL Players Association on issues similar to the ones in Reed’s case, and in drafting an addendum to the standard representation contract the agency uses with clients such as Reed. The judge also said the complaint in the case appears to include information that Ginsberg had access to only because of his work regarding Slavin’s employment contract.
While Ginsberg had argued that Slavin’s agreement isn’t important to the case and could be excluded at trial, the judge said it was “critical” to the issues in the case because it defines the relationship between Slavin and Sportstars.
Lee, a member of and special advisor to the firm’s Sports & Entertainment Industry Team, told Law360 that the case should never have been filed, saying it was based on “fanciful theories” stemming from Ginsberg’s prior representation of the agency, not on facts or the law.
“I have known the guys at Sportstars for more than a decade, since my time as general counsel of the New York Jets, and I’m confident that, consistent with their stellar reputations, they always have and always will make it their top priority to protect their clients’ best interests,” he said. “In my opinion, the case was Mr. Ginsberg’s misguided effort to shake down his own former client under the threat of costly federal litigation. Now that the threshold issue of his involvement has been dealt with, we look forward to a prompt resolution of the case in Sportstars’ favor.”