SBJ/February 11-17, 2013/Labor and Agents

Agent departures lead to grievance

MLB player agents Randy and Alan Hendricks have filed a grievance against three agents who left their firm for Excel Sports Management and took dozens of baseball clients with them, including Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, sources said.

Meanwhile, the three former Hendricks employees, J.D. Smart, Jim Murray and Matt Laird, who all joined Excel Sports in September 2012, have filed a counterclaim against the Hendricks brothers alleging they are owed back pay, sources said.

All the claims were filed under the MLBPA arbitration system and sources asked for anonymity because the hearings are confidential.

Rusty Hardin, the defense attorney who won an acquittal in a federal trial last year for pitcher Roger Clemens, a longtime Hendricks Sports Management client, is representing the Hendricks brothers in the arbitration case. But the firm has refused to answer any questions about the case.

Adam Kaiser, a partner at Winston & Strawn who has represented a number of agents in similar matters, is representing Smart, Laird and Murray in the case, sources said. Kaiser also declined to comment.

If the parties do not settle the dispute, the case will proceed like a trial but will be heard in private by an arbitrator. The arbitrator had not been selected and the arbitration date had not been set as of last week.

The Hendricks brothers are seeking future fees earned by the three former employees for negotiating contracts for former clients of Hendricks Sports Management.

The three agents are contending they owe no fees as their employment contracts, which contained restrictive covenants, including owing future fees to Hendricks Sports Management, expired before they joined Excel Sports. Excel Sports, co-owned by Jeff Schwartz, Casey Close and Mark Steinberg, is not a party in the case.
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