SBD/December 29, 2011/Franchises

Two Execs File Lawsuit Against Former 76ers Owner Seeking $2M Finder's Fee

Lawsuit seeks finder's fee for helping locate new 76ers owners
Two West Coast sports execs are suing Comcast-Spectacor “to collect a $2 million finder’s fee that they contend is owed them for helping with the sale of the win-challenged and financially ailing 76ers,” according to Bob Fernandez of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Former Trail Blazers President Bob Whitsitt and Reebok Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Tom Shine “filed the federal breach-of-contract lawsuit in Philadelphia on Tuesday claiming they introduced Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider and general counsel Philip Weinberg to sports agent Jason Levien, who became part of the group that eventually purchased the Sixers” (PHILLY.com, 12/28). Comcast-Spectacor VP/PR Ike Richman said that the company “challenges the merits of their claims and plans to vigorously defend the suit.” The lawsuit states that Comcast-Spectacor “has previously rejected the plaintiffs' fee demand on grounds Levien is not a controlling owner and that it paid a finder's fee to someone else.” The plaintiffs “call that logic ‘frivolous’ and say it differs from the written agreement.” The lawsuit claims that the agreement “promises a $2 million finder's fee if Shine and Whitsitt find a purchaser to serve as the controlling owner, ‘or another person designated by purchaser with the consent of club owner.’" The suit claims that the NBA “defines a controlling owner as someone with at least a 15 percent equity stake in the franchise who also manages the operations” (AP, 12/28).
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