Zion Williamson’s lawyers doubt marketing firm’s contract in $100M legal battle

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Lawyers for New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson want a federal judge in North Carolina to rule that a marketing firm suing Williamson for $100 million never had a valid contract with the former Duke star.

Prime Sports Marketing and its president, Gina Ford, sought breach-of-contract damages from Williamson and his current representatives at Creative Artists Agency after the player pulled out of an agreement with Prime Sports before he became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

The motion filed by Williamson attorney John Wester in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem this week centers on North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act. The law is meant to shield amateur athletes from agents trying to take advantage of their lack of experience with acquiring professional representation.

It requires agents to be registered in the state. It also requires contracts to contain a warning that athletes are forfeiting amateur eligibility, as well as language stipulating that athletes have 14 days to cancel the agreement.

Wester argued in a memorandum in support of his motion that Prime Sports’ contract with Williamson contained none of that required language, which is supposed to be “prominent, all-caps, and bold.”

Wester also asserts that Ford, who was Prime Sports’ primary contact with Williams and his family, was not registered in North Carolina.

“These statutes recognize the vulnerability of young student-athletes and attempt to aid their transition to professional sports by preventing manipulative, underhanded behavior from athlete agents who prey on student-athletes’ youth, and the athletes’ and their families’ inexperience in the industry,” Wester wrote.

Ford’s attorneys this month filed documents alleging Williamson “engaged in conduct that rendered … him ineligible to be or remain a student-athlete” before Williamson had met Ford to discuss endorsement deals. In theory, the claim would render arguments about the Uniform Athlete Agent Act moot, although no evidence has been offered yet to back it up.

Wester counters that the fact Williamson was deemed eligible to play for Duke and was “one of the most prominent student-athletes in the country in recent years,” means Williamson met the description of an amateur athlete when he was negotiating with Ford.

“It is undisputed that Mr. Williamson played basketball for Duke during the entire 2018-2019 basketball season,” Wester asserted.

The legal maneuvering between Williamson and Ford has been taking place in two federal jurisdictions.

Williamson sued in North Carolina last June to void the contract. Ford and Prime Sports responded by suing in federal court in Florida for damages related to breach of contract by Williamson and tampering by his CAA agents.

In Florida this month, Ford’s lawyer submitted a list of questions that include asking whether Williamson or anyone on his behalf had sought or accepted “money, benefits, favors or other things of value” to sign with Duke.

The filings — which offer no evidence of wrongdoing by Williamson or his family — sought answers within 30 days to establish facts under oath in the pretrial discovery process.

The questions reference Williamson’s mother and step-father as well as apparel companies Nike — which outfits the Blue Devils team — and Adidas. The questions include whether he received any improper benefits from an agent between January 2014 and his April 2019 announcement that he would go pro.

Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld has declined to comment on the filings since the school is not a party to either lawsuit. Schoenfeld also referred to a previous statement that the school has reviewed Williamson’s eligibility and found no concerns.

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Julian Assange’s lawyer says he secretly fathered two children with her

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange secretly fathered two children with one of his lawyers while he was holed up at the Ecuadorean embassy in London and fighting extradition to the US, according to a report.

Stella Morris, a South African-born lawyer, began a relationship with Assange, 48, in 2015, she told The Daily Mail, which broke the story of the couple’s secret romance and birth of their two sons on Saturday. Gabriel was born in 2017, said Morris, 37. Their second child, Max, was born last year. Both births were filmed with a GoPro camera and the footage sent to Assange, the Daily Mail reported.

The couple managed to keep their relationship and the birth of the children secret from the Ecuadorean staff and diplomats who had given Assange refuge at the embassy for seven years, the newspaper reported.

Assange, who was transferred to a high-security prison in England last year, is wanted in the US on espionage charges for leaking thousands of US intelligence documents.

The couple, who were engaged in 2017, believe that US intelligence operatives tried to steal the DNA from one of Gabriel’s diapers when they became suspicious that Assange was the father.

British rapper M.I.A. is a godmother to the children, who are both British citizens.

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New York lawyer, 50, his wife, daughter, 14, and son, 20, ALL have coronavirus – along with neighbor – The Sun

A NEW York lawyer, 50, his wife, daughter, 14, son, 20, and their neighbor ALL have coronavirus as Los Angeles declares a state of emergency.

The attorney's immediate family all tested positive this week, alongside his neighbor who drove him to hospital, upping the total number of cases in NY to six, while LA also experiences a surge.

On Wednesday, NYS Department of Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker and Cuomo revealed the Westchester attorney's neighbor also tested positive after driving him to hospital.

Cuomo said only the lawyer – who had an "underlying respiratory condition" – was hospitalized in Bronxville while his family self-isolated at their New Rochelle home as the US death toll rises to at least NINE.

The news comes as cases in the US top 130 in 13 states as of March 3 with officials in LA declaring an emergency today as the sixth case was confirmed there also .

The Los Angeles Times reports the city made the announcement after Marin County and San Francisco – which have no reported cases – and Orange County, which has three cases.

More than 50 people in California have been diagnosed in Santa Clara County, Berkeley, Placer County and Orange County as Americans all over the country face disruptions.

Many companies, schools and local governments are being extra cautious to stop the spread, implementing travel restrictions as some firms instruct employees to work remotely.

There are over 94,000 cases worldwide and over 3,000 deaths stemming from the deadly disease which first emerged in Wuhan, China and rapidly spread all over the world.

All of the US coronavirus deaths have occured in Washington state, with the most recent death connected to a Seattle nursing home, where other residents have tested positive and died from the virus.

The Trump administration said testing will be available to to all US citizens as Vice President Mike Pence assured Americans the threat to them remains "low" on Wednesday.

During the briefing, Trump said Obama “made a decision on testing that turned out to be detrimental,” adding "we have undone that decision."

In New York, 300 CUNY students and staff in China, Italy, Japan, Iran, and South Korea will be brought back to the US as a precuationary measure amid the ongoing outbreak.

Beth Garvey, the Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and General Counsel for the State University of New York, said state officials were identifying dormitory settings for those affected.

A healthworker was also diagnosed with the deadly disease there before shocking footage also emerged of a man wearing a protective mask collapsing on a sidewalk in Queens amid coronavirus fears.

As cases mount around the country, the rapidly spreading virus has "mutated" into two strains – with the most aggressive infecting 70 per cent of patients, scientists claim.

Researchers in China said they had found two main types of the deadly disease that could be causing infections in the US and further afield.

A team from Peking University's School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences have been analysing the outbreak since it first emerged in December.

As the number of coronavirus cases mounts, the FDA announced that as many as one million tests may be done by the end of the week.

The death toll first rose to seven on Tuesday afternoon when it was confirmed the virus had caused the death of a person who passed last week, the New York Times reported.

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