SBJ/April 3-9, 2017/Labor and Agents

Wasserman alleges ex-employee aided Fegan

Wasserman is alleging that a former employee, NBA agent Josh Ketroser, had a secret business relationship with NBA agent Dan Fegan while Fegan was head of Independent Sports and Entertainment’s basketball practice and was helping to drive clients to the rival agency.

ISE on March 10 fired Fegan, who is now engaged in a bitter legal battle with the agency. ISE has alleged in court hearings and documents that Fegan tried to steal its business while he was working there under contract.

Wasserman made its allegations nearly a month earlier, alleging in a private arbitration it filed against Ketroser that he had been working with Fegan.

Wasserman alleged in the arbitration complaint, dated Feb. 13, that Ketroser was helping ISE “to divert commissions owed and that will be owing to Wasserman.”

Two clients, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Atlanta Hawks forward Kris Humphries, have left Wasserman as a result of Ketroser’s conduct, Wasserman alleged in the documents.

“Wasserman is further informed and believes that Ketroser, in the concealed relationship described above, is working with Dan Fegan, … who is the head of the basketball division at ISE and NBA star player Kris Humphries’ former agent,” the arbitration complaint alleges.

Humphries, who was with Fegan for most of his early career, switched to Wasserman a few years ago before returning to Fegan at ISE last year about the time Ketroser left Wasserman. Humphries was represented by Fegan last week, sources said, and Smart was represented by Ketroser.

Ketroser’s attorney, Ryan Saba of Los Angeles law firm Rosen Saba, denied the allegations that his client was working with Fegan. “It’s completely absurd, and it’s false,” Saba said.

Ketroser resigned from Wasserman last fall. The arbitration and the allegations became public after Ketroser filed a lawsuit against Wasserman on March 21 and attached the arbitration complaint to that lawsuit.

Fegan also denied the allegations, through his counsel, Los Angeles attorney Howard Weitzman. “ISE Sports and Dan Fegan never worked with Josh Ketroser while he was still working at Wasserman,” Weitzman said. “In fact, ISE Sports engaged in contract discussions with Mr. Ketroser well after he resigned from Wasserman. These negotiations were approved by ISE CEO Hank Ratner and led by ISE general counsel David Bauman.”

An ISE spokesperson said the company never had any agreement with Ketroser as an employee or consultant.

Wasserman is being represented by Bert Deixler of Los Angeles law firm Kendall, Brill & Kelly. “Wasserman does not comment on litigation,” Deixler wrote in an email.

Ketroser’s suit against Wasserman, filed in Los Angeles federal court, alleges that the employment agreement Ketroser signed with the agency contained an arbitration clause that “is unconscionable.” Ketroser’s employment agreement allows Wasserman to bring claims against Ketroser in court or in arbitration, while Ketroser can only bring claims against Wasserman in arbitration, the suit said.

Among other things, Ketroser is asking the court for a determination of whether the arbitration clause is invalid and therefore “does not permit WMG to arbitrate its claims against Ketroser.”

Fegan, meanwhile, is involved in an acrimonious legal battle with ISE involving two separate arbitrations and a court case that the agency filed against him since he was fired.

ISE alleges that Fegan was running a side business and trying to get agents to leave with him. Fegan maintains he did nothing wrong.

Fegan was surprised at his firing and, in fact, helped keep ISE’s predecessor company, Relativity Sports, afloat by spending more than $1 million of his own money on it, his attorneys have said.

But a Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided with ISE in the first go-round, issuing a temporary restraining order March 17 preventing Fegan from competing in the sports marketing and talent representation business until April 6. Judge Mary Strobel indicated that she was swayed by the declaration of ISE NBA agent James Dunleavy, who said Fegan, after being fired by ISE, invited Dunleavy to join him.

Dunleavy was formerly a Wasserman NBA agent but left that agency in 2015 and later joined ISE.

The court will hold a hearing April 7 to determine whether to issue a preliminary injunction or lift the temporary restraining order Fegan is now operating under.


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