The letters began in January 2010, accusing Heitner of making “blatantly libelous” statements, based in part on Heitner’s republishing parts of articles penned by former New Times writer Bob Norman and adding his own “commentary” and “emphasis” to Norman’s reporting.
The actual lawsuit came about after a post Heitner wrote on his blog, sportsagentblog.com, on May 31, 2011, titled “Howard Kusnick Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud.”
In the post, Heitner refers to Kusnick as a “principal at Double Diamond Sports Management,” and he later posted to Twitter a link to the article with a play on the title of a post Norman wrote, saying, “Karma Catches Up w/agent of Jeremy Jeffress & Lorenzo Cain.”
Here’s what the lawyers representing Double Diamond wrote about that in their second letter to Heitner, the first sent to him about this particular post:
“…had you taken a few moments of what I am sure is a very busy day of tweeting and blogging, you would find that Mr. Howard Kusnick is not now, nor has he ever been the registered [Major League Baseball Players Association] certified agent of the above named players. In fact, only Mr. Joshua Kusnick has served in that capacity. Again, your statements are false, misleading and intended only to cause harm.
Aside from libel, the lawsuit also includes an accusation against Heitner for tortious interference with business relationships, since Heitner owns an agency — Dynasty Athlete Representation — that competes with Double Diamond.
Among the reasoning for that charge is the following line from Heitner’s blog, apparently referring to Howard Kusnick’s employment by Rothstein:
So who else was involved? That’s for the federal investigators to decide. But it is interesting to see that a sports agency based in South Florida (Double Diamond) has a relationship with the law firm that is in a lot of jeopardy.
In specific, the first letter to Heitner — sent well before Kusnick’s indictment — claimed Heitner was intentionally attempting to inflict financial harm against the agency by keeping clients away, specifically mentioning ties to Ponzi scheme extraordinaire Scott Rothstein:
Mr. Joshua Kusnick is the sole principal of Double Diamond Sports Management, Inc. His father’s unfortunate past employment with Mr. Scott Rothstein has nothing to do with Joshua Kusnick or Double Diamond Sports Management. That is like saying companies owned by ex-employees of Bernie Madoff are illegitimate or otherwise are afoul of the law.
Well, depending on how you define nothing, that may or may not be true.
Below is a cache of the Double Diamond website — which no longer exists — that was taken on September 7, 2008. Note that to the left of Howard Kusnick’s agency biography, Double Diamond happens to have the same address as the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm, as well as the same phone number, and a link to the RRA website.
Strangely enough, Kusnick owned a company called Howard A. Kusnick, P.A. that listed the RRA/Double Diamond address as well, until it was changed to a location in Tamarac in March.
That initial letter was written before Kusnick’s indictment on the wire-fraud charge in May, and well before he was sentenced to prison at the beginning of last month.
After apparently giving up on demanding $250,000 from Heitner, and also demanding that he post a retraction to the blog post — which Heitner eventually did — another letter was sent to Heitner from the Double Diamond lawyers, but this time with the lawsuit attached.
“My client has been contacted by several individuals regarding the outrageous comments made by you and has had to remain on the defensive about the issue for months,” the letter dated August 18 reads. “Frankly, my client is sick of having to continuously respond to the questions, and has advised me to file suit on his behalf.
Double Diamond is seeking unspecified damages from Heitner, and also alleges Heitner’s employer — Koch Parafinczuk & Wolf, P.A. — is at fault for negligent supervision of an employee by Heitner using the law firm’s “materials and/or resources” to post the remarks in question on his blog.