On Day 1 of the 2011 NFL Draft, Robert Quinn was selected #14 overall by the St. Louis Rams. Quinn was represented by Carl Carey, Jr. of Champion Proconsulting months prior to being selected by the Rams. Carey, Jr. paid for for many of Quinn’s expenses leading up to the NFL Draft, including the player’s housing, transportation, and NFL Combine training, and provided loans to Quinn based on his requests.
Quinn terminated his professional relationship with Carey, Jr. mere days prior to the conclusion of the NFL lockout. Drafted players had not been able to negotiate and sign contracts with the teams that drafted them up until the end of that lockout. Carey, Jr. has every right to be enraged by his former client’s actions, but he believes that Quinn’s decision to hire new representation was illegally influenced by others.
Under Section 5 of the former NFLPA Regulations Governing Contract Advisors, the NFLPA’s arbitration procedure was the exclusive method for resolving any and all disputes that arose from:
A dispute between two or more Contract Advisors with respect to whether or not a Contract Advisor interfered with the contractual relationship of a Contract Advisor and player in violation of Section 3(B)(21). If a Contract Advisor proves such a violation of Section 3(B)(21), then the Arbitrator shall award reasonable damages proven and/or any money award which he/she deems equitable.
However, the NFLPA decertified in early March 2011 in an effort to file an antitrust action in court, amongst other stated reasons. As of the publishing of this post, the NFLPA has still not yet officially recertified as a union representing NFL players. Thus, Section 5 of the NFLPA Regulations Governing Contract Advisors does not apply to the instant case, and an agent wishing to take action against an entity he believes to have interfered in his contractual relationship with a player may file an action in court. That is exactly what Carey, Jr. has done.
The premise of Carey, Jr.’s Complaint is that Robert Quinn’s Business Manager, Christina White, served as an intermediary between Mitchell Frankel and Tony Fleming of Impact Sports, and led Quinn to believe that Impact Sports could do a better job than Carey, Jr. with regards to marketing Quinn and finding endorsement opportunities during the lockout. Carey, Jr. also claims that White, Frankel, and/or Fleming told Quinn that he should have been selected higher than #14 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Carey, Jr.’s first count is for tortious interference with contract and conspiracy. In that count, he claims that the Defendants, willfully and intentionally interfered with the contract he and Robert Quinn signed. He also stated that Christina White induced Quinn to agree to change agents and hire Impact Sports. There is one big program with that statement – Impact Sports claims that they have not signed Quinn. However, it is not necessary to prove that Quinn signed with Impact Sports in order to have a valid claim of intentional interference. Instead, Carey, Jr. will have to prove that at least one of the Defendants caused the interference, and it helps to show that the Defendant(s) had a bad motive and interests adverse to Carey, Jr. Carey, Jr. will also have to prove that the Defendant(s) had knowledge of the existence of a contract between Quinn and Carey, Jr., which should be a piece of cake.
The only other count in the Complaint that is worth a grain of salt is the short Breach of Contract. However, I do not have a copy of the contract that Quinn signed with Carey, Jr., so I cannot analyze how strong that count may be.
Is the lawsuit about an agency knowingly recruiting another agent’s client through the use of an intermediary, or is this the case of a disgruntled agent who lost a player through legally permitted competition? While it is rare for an agent to successfully sue another based on tortious interference with contractual relations, it has occurred in the past. In September 2010, basketball agent Keith Glass convinced an arbitrator to order Andy Miller of ASM Sports to pay Glass $40,000 in damages based on the tortious interference. In baseball, Aroldis Chapman’s former agent had accused Hendricks Sports Management of tortiously interfering with his representation of Chapman (that case eventually settled out of court).