Zion Williamson will be able to enter the NBA’s Disney World bubble with one less pending trial hanging over his head, as a Florida judge has reportedly put a lawsuit from the New Orleans Pelicans rookie’s former marketing agent on ice.
The Florida Third District Court of Appeal granted Williamson a full stay against Prime Sports Marketing’s $100 million lawsuit, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Wallach, which means he will not have to testify about possibly receiving illegal benefits during his career at Duke.
Legal proceedings will now reportedly shift to federal court in North Carolina, where Williamson originally sued to void his contract with the company.
BREAKING: Zion Williamson is granted a full stay of the Florida lawsuit brought by Gina Ford. The 3rd DCA’s Order states that “the trial court’s proceedings are hereby stayed.” This means that he will not have to answer Ford’s discovery requests - for now - as venue shifts to NC. pic.twitter.com/oGhAf7IngS— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) June 17, 2020
Per Wallach, Williamson was granted the stay because of his lawsuit in North Carolina, as it is a rule in Florida court to stay proceedings when there is a pending matter involving the same parties and issues.
Zion Williamson’s legal battle is not over
The decision is likely a relief for Williamson, Duke basketball and Nike, who all faced damage to their reputations once Gina Ford, president of Prime Sports Marketing, demanded Williamson testify under oath about possibly receiving illegal benefits with Mike Krzyzewski’s program.
The demand quickly drew a number of college basketball eyeballs to the case, and led to a contentious legal back-and-forth.
The actual lawsuit that will now be dealt with is Williamson’s claim that Ford violated North Carolina laws, including the North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act, with the contract she had him sign while at Duke.
Williamson’s attorneys contend that the contract should be voided because Ford failed to include a notice that he would lose his NCAA eligibility in bold, capital letters if he signed with her company, as required by North Carolina law. They have also claimed Ford is not certified by the NBA Players Association or considered a registered agent in either North Carolina or Florida, and that she fraudulently exaggerated her past experience while pursuing Williamson as a client when he was still at Duke.
Wallach seems to like Williamson’s chances in federal court.
Here’s why Zion Williamson will likely win the NC federal case and avoid having to answer Q’s about Duke benefits:— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) June 17, 2020
- text messages show Ford contacting Williamson’s parents in Jan. 2019.
- “student athlete” status comes from engaging in the games, independent from eligibility.
Williamson originally signed with Ford and Prime Sports Marketing days after declaring for the NBA draft, but before the deadline to return to school. 41 days after signing the contract, Williamson reportedly emailed Ford that their contract was being canceled and he would sign with mega-agency CAA Sports.
Ford clearly did not want to lose out on Williamson’s obvious marketing value — he seems set to be the “NBA 2K21” cover athlete — without a fight. Now, that fight will be narrowed to North Carolina for now.
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