- Law firms
- Complaint in NY court alleges firm implicated in client’s alleged fraud scheme
- Plaintiff Aaron Goodwin a veteran NBA player representative
(Reuters) – A longtime agent for professional basketball players and his business partner has sued Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani for more than $92 million in damages, alleging the law firm and two of its former partners conspired in a fraud scheme over the sale of their enterprises .
Players’ agent Aaron Goodwin along with his business partner — twin brother Eric, who is a sports marketing expert — sued Gordon Rees on Jan. 11 in New York state court. In the complaint, they claimed the San Francisco-based firm helped to commit “a brazen bait-and-switch fraud to mislead the Goodwins into selling their thriving sports management business.”
The case pits a veteran agent for top National Basketball Association stars against one of the country’s largest law firms, with more than 1,000 attorneys.
Representatives from Gordon Rees on Friday did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Aaron Goodwin’s client work has included some of the top players in the NBA, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, the lawsuit said.
“Our clients suffered substantial reputational harm and a significant loss of business,” lawyer Rodney Villazor of Smith Villazor, counsel to the Goodwins, said in a statement on Friday, adding that he plans to pursue the case to “vindicate the Goodwins’ rights and restore their reputations.”
Joe Kingma of Stites Harbison, a lawyer representing Gordon Rees and the other defendants, C. Anthony Mulrain and Alonzo Llorens, who are former partners at the firm, did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Mulrain, now at Holland & Knight, and Llorens, who was at Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, also did not immediately respond to similar messages. Representatives from the two firms did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
The Goodwins’ 61-page lawsuit details a series of bids for their businesses, including the final one, when Gordon Rees client Decade SAC LLC closed a deal in 2016 to purchase the Goodwins’ businesses for $35 million.
The suit said the Goodwins were duped into believing the transaction’s terms, including its employment agreements, remained the same as earlier ones. They said they were not invited to the closing.
The suit accused Gordon Rees of “misrepresentations and concealments,” asserting the Goodwins’ signatures were fraudulently attached to deal documents that neither brother said they saw or agreed to.
Decade, which would later file for bankruptcy, failed to pay more than $25 million owed to the Goodwin brothers, according to the lawsuit. The Goodwins’ lawsuit, which seeks lost profits from player salary and endorsement contracts, alleging Decade’s fraud scheme “unraveled” amid loan defaults and bankruptcy proceedings.
The case is Aaron Goodwin et al v. Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani et al, Supreme Court of the State of New York, No. 650167/2023.
For plaintiffs: Rodney Villazor of Smith Villazor
For defendant: Joe Kingma of Stites Harbison
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