HACKENSACK, N.J. (CN) – As scheduling conflicts push back the start of a hotly anticipated trial on the New York Giants memorabilia scandal, attorneys confirmed in court Monday that acrimony between the two parties has ratcheted up.
“Counsel is not talking to each other,” said Brian Brook, an attorney with Clinton Brook & Peed who represents sports memorabilia dealer Eric Inselberg.
Filed four years ago in Bergen County Superior Court, the suit by Inselberg had initially been set to head to jury selection this morning.
Judge Charles Powers Jr. moved the date to Wednesday over the weekend, however, and then this morning to May 21 to accommodate a funeral one of the attorneys wanted to attend.
Brook told reporters after the hearing that he has received “the silent treatment” from attorneys representing the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning. Several emails, even those regarding simple procedural questions, have gone unanswered, Powers complained.
“I’ve never heard of that before litigation,” he said. “Lawyers should be talking to each other.”
Inselberg initiated the case in 2014 after a years-long FBI sting operation into counterfeit jerseys ruined his business. Claiming that the Giants are at the heart of a long-standing fraud to misrepresent certain memorabilia as game-used, Inselberg accuses the Giants of having lied to make him a scapegoat.
Attorney Brook attributed the repeated delays Monday to “standard defense stuff” but said he was “disappointed” in having to wait another week to start trial.
Brook would not comment on potential settlement talks.
Jonathan Hoff, an attorney for Manning with Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, declined to comment on whether the parties were discussing a settlement. “I’m sorry, but we’re not saying anything,” he said Monday.
As the discovery in the case heated up for trial, the publicity surrounding potentially damning emails between Manning and Giants equipment manager Joseph Skiba have led to sniping between the parties.
In one of those emails, the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback asked Skiba for “2 helmets that can pass as game used.”
Another email from 2008 shows Inselberg and Skiba bantering about Manning’s used helmets and jerseys.
“Are these the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didn’t want to give up the real stuff?” Inselberg asked in the email. “BS ones, you are correct,” Skiba responded.
Manning’s attorneys claimed the emails had been marked confidential and should never have been released, and that Manning was merely honoring a contract with Steiner Sports to provide two each of game-used helmets and jerseys.
The typically low-key Manning has angrily denounced the allegations last spring, telling reporters: “I’m more angry than anything. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m still being attacked.”
Manning is among many star witnesses who have been deposed in the case, including Giants’ owner John Mara and defensive end Michael Strahan.
Brook said he may play segments from those depositions during trial but is unsure whether he will call Manning, Mara or Strahan to the stand. Both are listed on the defense’s official witness list, however.
During Manning’s deposition, Brook grilled the quarterback about the meaning of the words “pass as.” Manning claimed he had merely been asking for the helmets he had worn those seasons.
“So I emailed Joe Skiba asking for two game-used helmets in case I didn’t have two game-used helmets at home,” Manning said, according to a copy of the deposition. “I don’t know if … I’m not saying I don’t know if I knew I had a helmet or not.”
Other potentially damaging exhibits from the plaintiffs include photos of Manning wearing helmets that do not correspond with game-used helmets later sold by collectors, and emails that indicate the Giants’ in-house counsel knew of the accusations in 2011.
Giants co-owner Mara, who testified during deposition earlier this year, says he was not aware of the accusations until the 2014 suit.
Attorneys for the Giants have argued that no expert reports have showed fraudulent helmets. They also deny that the collectors suffered damages.
The trial is expected to last anywhere from two to four weeks.