SBD/May 17, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Former NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter Files Suit Against Union, President Derek Fisher

Hunter is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for his termination
Former NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter sued the union and President Derek Fisher on Thursday “for defamation and breach of contract stemming from his dismissal,” according to Ken Berger of CBSSPORTS.com. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Oakland, alleges that Fisher and his publicist, Jamie Wior, "conspired to negotiate a secret deal to end the 2011 lockout and that their actions amounted to a breach of Hunter's employment contract with the NBPA.” Hunter is seeking “unspecified compensatory and punitive damages based on his termination, at the time of which he was owed $10.5 million in salary through 2015.” He is seeking at minimum the "money he was owed on his contract at the time of his termination.” The complaint alleges that Fisher “undermined Hunter's authority as the union's bargaining agent by secretly negotiating with ‘certain owners’ and conspiring with Wior to oust him as executive director and ‘vest control of the union.’" The lawsuit cites Fisher's attempts to hire DC-based law firm Patton Boggs to "conduct a business review of the union -- a move that was rejected 8-0 by the executive committee, which subsequently hired a New York firm to conduct the review.” It also alleges Fisher "actively manipulated the investigation" by the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison "by making false statements impugning Hunter's character." The union's board of player representatives voted 24-0 on Feb. 16 “to oust Hunter as executive director after a nine-month investigation by Paul-Weiss into the union's finances and business practices during Hunter's tenure” (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/16). USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt notes the lawsuit “also suggested Fisher wanted a resolution to the 2011 NBA lockout because ‘each game cancelled during the lockout represented income that Fisher would never realize and would be unlikely to recover because his remaining player career was limited’” (USA TODAY, 5/17).
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