Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 23 No. 13
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Pretrial hearing set for April in lawsuits involving Hunter, NBPA

A pretrial hearing has been set for April in the lawsuit fired National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter filed against the union and the countersuit that the union recently filed against Hunter.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Huey Cotton could set a trial date for the matter at the pretrial hearing April 25.

Billy Hunter was fired by the NBPA in 2013 after nearly 17 years leading the union.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Hunter first filed suit against the NBPA, where he worked as executive director for almost 17 years, in May 2013. The NBPA, which fired Hunter in February 2013, filed a counterclaim against him last month.

Hunter is suing the union for $10 million he claims is owed to him, alleging breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, among other things.

The NBPA filed its countersuit Dec. 18, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, negligent and fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, constructive fraud, and unjust enrichment, among other things. The NBPA seeks millions of dollars in unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, which at a minimum would be $1.3 million.

The lawsuit alleges that Hunter wrongfully obtained a $1.3 million payout for vacation pay that Hunter claimed to have accrued but did not use. The NBPA also alleges that Hunter’s 2010 employment contract, which Hunter maintains as the basis for his claim, was never approved by two-thirds of the board of player representatives, as is required by the union’s bylaws.

“The facts evidencing Mr. Hunter repeatedly breaching his fiduciary duty to the NBPA are overwhelming and now that Mr. Hunter has filed his amended complaint, the time is right for the NBPA to pursue these claims,” NBPA general counsel Gary Kohlman said.

Since Hunter first filed the lawsuit in May 2013, the NBPA filed motions to dismiss it and Cotton ruled that it could proceed, but it removed former NBPA player president and current New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher and Fisher’s former publicist, Jamie Wior, as defendants. The NBPA then appealed Cotton’s ruling, which allowed Hunter to file an amended complaint against the union. A California appeals court ruled in favor of Hunter in August 2015 and allowed the amended lawsuit to proceed.

“The NBPA has delayed Mr. Hunter’s lawsuit for two years with meritless, time-consuming arguments that have been rejected by the courts,” said Dave Anderson, a partner at the law firm Sidley Austin, and one of Hunter’s attorneys. “Spent a lot of player money for nothing really other than delay. The cross-complaint continues the NBPA’s strategy of attack and delay. It contains old and meritless charges that will not stop Mr. Hunter from sticking up for himself.”

Hunter was fired after the NBPA hired attorney Ted Wells to investigate him and after Wells issued a report in January 2013 that found, among other things, that Hunter acted in his own interests and against the interests of NBA players. Hunter served as NBPA executive director from 1996 until February 2013. Michele Roberts was elected to succeed Hunter in July 2014.

“Mr. Hunter worked for the NBPA for the better part of two decades, and when he left, the NBPA was in the best financial shape of its existence,” Anderson said. “So far only Ted Wells has told his side of the story for the NBPA. As this lawsuit moves forward, Mr. Hunter will have his opportunity to defend his rights and his reputation.”