WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) – New counterclaims against Derek Jeter say that the iconic Yankee destroyed an underwear product launch by protesting that the skivvies were “too gay.”
High-end men’s clothing company Revolution Wear brought the allegations on Monday in an answer to Jeter’s complaint in Delaware Chancery Court.
The company says Jeter cost it millions by repeatedly pooh-poohing their designs and plans to launch Frigo Zone athletic undergarments after he became a part-owner of Revolution in 2011.
Revolution says Jeter’s part-ownership also led it to nix a potential endorsement deal with 50 Cent because Jeter deemed the rapper “too urban,” according to the 77-page filing.
In addition to his concerns about marketing Frigo underwear to the gay community, Jeter also insisted the underwear design be “less sporty,” in an attempt to avoid upsetting Nike, with whom he has a multimillion dollar endorsement contract, Revolution says.
“Jeter caused RWI to change its product, distribution strategy and brand message from being sports garments to fashion garments so that he [would] not damage his relationship with Nike,” the complaint said.
Revolution says Jeter’s role as a Nike spokesman created a conflict of interest he “hid” from it, from the time they first agreed to become partners.
Before the ink on their deal had even dried, Jeter lied about having Nike’s “explicit written permission” to be a publicized “co-founder, substantial owner and director of the Frigo company,” the filing states.
Revolution says it tapped Jeter to become an investor as part of a “reverse-endorsement plan,” which aimed to impress consumers by having noteworthy celebrities invest money and effort into developing their product, rather than just wearing or promoting the undies.
The success of this marketing strategy relied on Jeter publicly announcing his role with the company, but Jeter “repeatedly refused” to do so, the lawsuit says.
“There will be no mention of Derek’s presence in the marketplace,” an agent for Jerter allegedly wrote in a November 2013 email to Frigo’s CEO almost two years after Jeter became a co-owner, the filing states.
Revolution says Jeter’s curveball fouled up a New York City launch planned for the same month.
Revolution’s entire reverse-endorsement strategy was “destroyed, and the substantial amount of money [they] invested in that plan was wasted,” the suit says.
Jeter added “insult to injury” by attending but taking care not to admit to any personal involvement with the company.
“Jeter … falsely stated to the media representatives at the launch: ‘I’m supporting my man, [Revolution CEO] Matthias Ingvarsson,” the counterclaims allege. “He gave me this product and I fell in love with it.'”
After the small fortune it spent on the launch, Revolution said this statement was a “slap in the face.”
Jeter paints a very different picture of the terms of the contract between the two n the lawsuit he filed against Revolution last month.
Though initially sealed after their November filing, Jeter’s claims are now available in chancery court as a verified and restated complaint.
Purporting to quote the agreement directly, Jeter’s lawsuit says “RevolutionWear expressly ‘acknowledge[d] and agree[d] that Jeter’s services … [do] not include endorsement or marketing of RevolutionWear’s products or use of [Jeter’s] likeness or name in connection with the marketing of[the products].'”
Revolution’s counterclaims meanwhile cite a section of the agreement that says “RevolutionWear may disclose [Jeter’s] identity … in the context of information” about the company.
Aside from the lawsuit in Delaware, Revolution reportedly filed for arbitration against Jeter in Sweden after he stepped down as an investor. The retired baseball star claims Revolution’s conduct merely proves that it is “more interested in threatening litigation and extorting [him] … than working cooperatively to solve” the issues.
Jeter claims that Revolution’s brass was simply “look[ing] for someone or something to blame for its financial struggles,” and that the company “struggled to create a market for its products” in spite of his involvement, not because of it.
Revolution counters that Jeter set them up to fail, hoping to usurp the firm’s “patented technology” and “moisture-lock” design to set himself up for a lucrative postretirement clothing-design career, either with his own line or in a partnership with Nike or Under Armour.
“To make matters worse, after [Jeter] almost destroyed RWI through his breaches and frauds, he sought to capitalize on [their] financial struggles and purchase additional [stock] shares at an extremely reduced price so that he would become the major owner of RWI,” the counterclaims state. “He wanted full control.”
Revolution seeks at least $30 million in punitive damages from Jeter for fraud, rescission and breach of contract.
Jeter says the company should be paying him, claiming it breached an indemnification clause requiring coverage of any legal fees arising out of the now-defunct business partnership.
Revolution counters that this obligation went out the window when Jeter thwarted their reverse-endorsement plan and made false statements involving Nike.
Representatives from Excel Sports Management, which represents Jeter through agent Casey Close, did not respond to an email seeking comment on the case.
A spokesman for Revolution forwarded a statement issued by attorney Joseph Tacopina of Manhattan firm Tacopina and Siegel.
“I would like to respond to Derek Jeter’s comments reported in TMZ that RevolutionWear’s counterclaims are ‘BS,'” Tacopina said. “Jeter defrauded RevolutionWear, blatantly breached the fiduciary duties he owed to it and utterly failed to perform his contract with the company.
“We look forward to cross-examining [him] under oath to expose his alleged frauds to the public,” the attorney continued.
Jeter spoke out about the legal battle after his camp filed suit in November, calling Revolution’s allegations “categorically false.”
The retired shortstop also addressed his alleged slight against 50 Cent.
“I facilitated the introductory meeting between 50 Cent and the company, so it makes absolutely no sense that I would object to 50 Cent being a brand ambassador or think that [he] is ‘too urban’ for the brand,” Jeter reportedly said.
Fiddy responded to the “too urban” rumor last month on social media, posting “Wow, guess I’m not a Yankees fan anymore. LETS GO METS? [sic]” as a caption underneath a photo of the retired Yankee on Instagram, according to reports by TMZ.
It is unclear who represents Jeter in his complaint against Revolution. His business entities Turn 2 Enterprises LLC and Derek S. Jeter 2002 Trust were also plaintiffs in the suit.
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