SBJ/October 27 - November 2, 2003/Labor Agents

NFL agent to appeal union decertification vote

The NFL Players Disciplinary Committee has voted to decertify agent Terry Lavenstein, who represents five NFL player clients, including New York Giants running back Ron Dayne.

"He had been suspended by his bar association for misconduct and was adjudged to have committed malpractice by a court in Maryland, and he failed to disclose those matters to the [NFL Players Association]," said Richard Berthelsen, NFLPA general counsel.

The union's regulations prohibit an agent from engaging in conduct that "reflects adversely on his or her fitness as a contract adviser," Berthelsen said.

Lavenstein said he has been treated unfairly by the NFLPA and is appealing the decertification to an arbitrator. He said his partner, Lee Southren, is still an agent in good standing with the union and will be able to represent his clients while he fights the NFLPA discipline.

"I certainly think the players association has an agenda that we will get to the bottom of during the [arbitration] hearings," he said, "and we will vigorously challenge them over their authority over my ability to make a living in this business."

Lavenstein said he is also appealing a $660,000 court judgment against him in Maryland that found he acted with negligence in representing the estate of a woman killed in a car crash. Lavenstein said he accepted the Maryland Bar Association's attorney grievance commission's 60-day suspension in 2001.

He said, however, that those events should not prevent him from acting as a contract adviser to NFL players because that case did not reflect on his honesty, but rather was a pure negligence case.

Lavenstein said his problems with the union began earlier this year when he was told he was being decertified for failing to appear at a required annual agent seminar. He said when he filed a grievance over that issue and told the union he was considering going to court, union officials told him they were looking into the judgment and bar association discipline against him.

Berthelsen responded, "Like all discipline cases, Mr. Lavenstein's case is strictly about violations of our regulations governing contract advisers. Those regulations, among other things, require that an agent cooperate with us in any investigations of their conduct. Mr. Lavenstein did not do that, and instead he claimed to us that his problems with the bar association and his malpractice case were a personal matter that should not concern us."

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