MIAMI (CN) - NFL running back Clinton Portis claims a Greenberg Traurig attorney left him "virtually helpless" after she handed the repayment of his $1 million investment to a third party, and concealed her conflict of interest. Wide receiver Terrell Owens filed a similar complaint 3 weeks ago.
Portis is a starting running back for the Washington Redskins. He sued Greenberg Traurig and Pamela S. Linden for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in Miami-Dade Court.
Portis claims nonparty Pro Sports Financial, his financial adviser from 2005 to 2008, hired Linden in 2007 to draft loan documents for him to invest in the real estate, entertainment and gaming project in Dothan, Ala.
Portis claims Pro Sports told him his investment would be a loan secured by real estate, and that he would be paid interest and get part ownership in the project.
However, "The Pro Sports Advisors had a very close relationship with Linden, which was never disclosed to Portis, and which clouded Linden's judgment in representing Portis," the complaint states. "Because she was being retained by the Pro Sports Advisors, Linden acted as if they, and not Portis, were her clients. She acted in their best interests, and not in Portis' best interest."
Portis' complaint closely tracks a similar complaint filed 3 weeks ago by Terrell Owens. Both NFL stars say that Linden and Greenberg Traurig failed to warn them that the entertainment project in which they were investing contained a gaming hall with electronic bingo - a casino - which is illegal in Alabama, and that ownership of such a place would violate NFL policy.
Portis' complaint states: "Linden knew that Portis played football in the National Football League, and that consequently, he was governed by the NFL rules of conduct. She also knew, or should have known, that the NFL Rules of Conduct likely prohibited Portis from investing in the project. Linden should have advised Portis that he was prohibited from making the investment, but, for obvious reasons, did not. She also knew or should have known, and had the obligation to advise Portis, that the main source of revenue for the Project, electronic bingo, was not legal under Alabama law. Moreover, instead of structuring the transaction to adequately protect Portis' loan/investment in the project, Linden structured the transaction to give all of the control to her close friends at Pro Sports. She even set up LLCs in Portis' name (without his permission or authority) and other LLCs for the Pro Sports Advisors to facilitate this control," according to the complaint.
Portis adds: "In 2008, unaware of the dangers of the investment in the project that were hidden from him, Portis loaned one million dollars to the project. As discussed, Linden had the duty to form the partnership and draft the loan documents to secure this loan/investment. She breached this duty."
Portis claims, "Had Portis been properly informed and warned about investing in the project at that early juncture, he would never have gotten involved at all. Linden, however, never even met with Portis a single time, and never even consulted with him to see that he was adequately warned. After all, the project needed investors, and the Pro Sports Advisors (and Linden) benefited from Portis' investment. The only one who lost was Portis. ...
"Only after Portis authorized his one million dollar investment, and after he had invested land and guaranteed the repayment of certain debt for the project, did he discover that the Pro Sports Advisors also had a financial interest in the project insofar as it was collecting regular management fees. He also discovered that fees and or commissions were paid and gifts were given to the Pro Sports Advisors related to the investments in the project, including the fees and or commissions made off of his investment. Reports were also released and indictments were issued against parties involved with the project for bribery of public officials to approve the project and the gaming components.
"The difficulties and problems that have arisen as a result of Linden's breach of her duties to Portis are now become readily apparent. In 2010, Country Crossing [the project] was raided by state authorities that shut down its electronic bingo operation, which was the primary source of its revenues. Although the Project has reopened under the name of Center Stage, and has tried to move forward with a different type of electronic bingo, the state attorney general has issued a cease and desist order prohibiting even the new form of electronic bingo. Its survival is in dire jeopardy."
Portis seeks compensatory damages, attorney's fees and costs, and prejudgment and post-judgment interest.
He is represented by Martin Simkovic.