Sports Agents Sue Former Partner

     SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (CN) – A sports agent failed to abide by terms of an agreement that freed him to set up a competing business, his former partners say in a $1.5 million demand in court.
     John Massaroni, Michael Giorgio and National Sports Management LLC sued John Rickert in Schenectady County Supreme Court. The three men founded the Schenectady-based LLC in 2005.
     Rickert helped Artis Hicks land his first NFL contract and now represents dozens of athletes and entertainers, according to a client list.
     The plaintiffs claim Rickert breached the settlement agreement they all signed this year that let him resign from National Sports and released him from a noncompete clause. The agreement allowed the partners to part ways after “various disputes arose among the parties concerning the management and revenue sharing related to” National Sports.
     Rickert now is a sports and celebrity agent with Authentic Athletix and has his own firm, JR Sports Enterprises. An educator for more than 20 years, he also is the principal at Niskayuna High School in suburban Schenectady County.
     Sports agents negotiate employment and endorsement contracts for athletes as they move into the professional ranks of the NFL, Major League Baseball, National Hockey League and NBA, taking a percentage of the player’s contracts as payment. They also can offer business services to the athletes they represent, such as marketing and media relations, and financial and tax planning.
     The Jan. 9 settlement agreement listed more than 50 clients of National Sports who were dubbed “existing athletes,” whose contracts would produce continuing revenue to be shared among the three – and whoever signed the athlete would get the largest chunk of that money.
     Among the listed athletes is Artis Hicks, who was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and now plays for the Miami Dolphins. Other NFL names on the list are Joshua Cribbs (Cleveland Browns), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (free agent), Ellis Lankster (New York Jets) and Lorenzo Alexander (Washington Redskins). Major League Baseball’s Hector Rabago (New York Yankees) is there, as is Matthew Tone (Minnesota Twins).
     The settlement agreement indicates that revenue from “new athletes” – clients signed within the next two years – would be shared among the three former partners, too.
     The complaint claims that Rickert breached the agreement “despite due demand for compliance.” It seeks $500,000 in damages on that claim.
     A second claim alleges that Rickert “made fraudulent and false statements and misrepresentations to the plaintiffs and fraudulently concealed receipts of fees from professional athletes … to which the plaintiffs are entitled to revenue sharing.”
     His former partners also claim that Rickert “fraudulently represented to the plaintiffs that there are various athletes which he does not represent, while representing to the media, both social and public, that he in fact represents those players.”
     Rickert knew the statements were false when he made them, and they “were intentionally made to induce the plaintiffs to enter into the … settlement agreement,” the complaint states.
     “The actions of the defendant were gross, wanton and were of high moral culpability and rose to the level of willful fraud,” the complaint states, demanding punitive damages of $1 million.
     The plaintiffs are represented by John Seebold with Capasso & Massaroni. Plaintiff John Massaroni is a partner in that Schenectady law firm.

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