Champion Pro Consulting Grp., LLC v. Impact Sports Football, LLC, 1:12CV27.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
Citation116 F.Supp.3d 644
Decision Date15 July 2015
Docket NumberNo. 1:12CV27.,1:12CV27.
Parties CHAMPION PRO CONSULTING GROUP, LLC, and Carl E. Carey, Jr. Ph.D., Plaintiffs, v. IMPACT SPORTS FOOTBALL, LLC, Mitchell Frankel, Tony Fleming, and Marvin Austin, Defendants.

116 F.Supp.3d 644

CHAMPION PRO CONSULTING GROUP, LLC, and Carl E. Carey, Jr. Ph.D., Plaintiffs,
v.
IMPACT SPORTS FOOTBALL, LLC, Mitchell Frankel, Tony Fleming, and Marvin Austin, Defendants.

No. 1:12CV27.

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina.

Signed July 15, 2015.


116 F.Supp.3d 646

Karen McKeithen Schaede, Connors Morgan, PLLC, Greensboro, NC, Kevin J. Dolley, Jonathan E. Skrabacz, Mark J. Obermeyer, Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley, LLC, St. Louis, MO, for Plaintiff.

Peter R. Ginsberg, Beth A. Manzullo, Peter R. Ginsberg Law LLC, New York, NY, Andrew H. Erteschik, Poyner Spruill, LLP, RALEIGH, NC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

OSTEEN, JR., District Judge.

Plaintiffs Champion Pro Consulting Group, LLC ("Champion Pro") and Carl E. Carey, Jr., Ph.D. ("Carey") (collectively "Plaintiffs") initiated these proceedings against Defendants Impact Sports Football, LLC ("Impact Sports"), Mitchell Frankel ("Frankel"), Tony Fleming ("Fleming"), and Marvin Austin ("Austin") (collectively "Defendants"), alleging a series of actions that violate Section 75–1.1 of the North Carolina General Statutes and that constitute a civil conspiracy.1

Presently before this court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 62.) Plaintiffs have filed a memorandum in support of their motion and a statement of material facts. (Docs. 63, 66.) After Defendants filed their motion, the parties continued to conduct discovery.

At the close of discovery, Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment along with a wide array of exhibits and extensive statements of material facts. (Docs. 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132.) Defendants then filed a reply, accompanied by a response to Plaintiffs' statements of material facts. (Docs. 137, 138.) This court ruled on several preliminary matters (Doc. 143), and on March 30, 2015, a hearing was held on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Minute Entry 3/30/2015.)

Defendants' motion is now ripe, and for the reasons stated herein, this court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. FACTS

The parties have submitted extensive lists of facts and characterized those facts as material and either undisputed or controverted. (Docs. 66, 130, 131, 138.) The parties have incorporated these documents by reference in their briefing on the summary judgment motion. This practice is

116 F.Supp.3d 647

neither allowed by the Local Rules of the Middle District of North Carolina, nor is it condoned by this court. See LR 7.3(d) (limiting briefs in support of motions and responsive brief to 20 pages). Nonetheless, this court has reviewed these documents, and in keeping with its obligations under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, this court provides the following recitation of material facts that are supported by record evidence.

The current controversy involves a dispute between Robert Quinn's current and former agents. While Robert Quinn ("Quinn") and Christina White (then Robert Quinn's girlfriend and now Quinn's wife ("C. Quinn")), were originally named as defendants, Plaintiffs have dismissed all claims against both individuals, first without prejudice, (Stipulation for Dismissal of Def. Robert Quinn (Doc. 12)), and then with prejudice, (Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice (Doc. 39)). Quinn played college football at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC") from 2008 until he was deemed permanently ineligible in 2010. In 2011, he was chosen as the 14th overall pick in the National Football League ("NFL") Draft by the St. Louis Rams. After the NFL and the NFL Players Association ("NFLPA") agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") in July 2011, Quinn signed a contract on August 4, 2011, for $4,073,468 over his first four seasons with the Rams and with a signing bonus of $5,362,585. (Pls.' Ex. 43, NFL Player Contract between Quinn and The St. Louis Rams, LLC (Doc. 128–11) at 1, 5.) This lawsuit involves a dispute between Quinn's former "Contract Advisor" or agent—Plaintiff Carey and his firm, Champion Pro—and Quinn's present agent—Defendant Fleming and his firm, Impact Sports.

Plaintiff Carey is a certified registered advisor with the NFLPA and an associate professor at Lonestar College in Kingwood, Texas. While Quinn was a student at UNC, Carey cultivated a relationship with Quinn, and on December 4, 2010, Quinn signed a Standard Representation Agreement ("SRA") with Carey. (Pls.' Ex. 1, SRA between Carey and Quinn (Doc. 127–1).) As Quinn's agent, Carey performed a variety of services to assist Quinn with his transition to the NFL and to help Quinn prepare for the NFL Combine, his Pro Day, and the NFL Draft. (Pls.' Statement of Additional & Controverted Material Facts ("Pls.' Statement Add'l Facts") (Doc. 131) ¶¶ 158–66.)

In late July 2011, Quinn terminated his relationship with Plaintiffs and signed a new SRA with Defendant Fleming and his firm, Impact Sports. Defendants had wanted to represent Quinn since at least May of 2010. (See Pls.' Ex. 25, Recruiting List 2010 (Doc. 129–13) at 2.) Defendants admit that they met with Quinn in Miami in mid-June 2011, while Quinn was represented by Plaintiffs. (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (Doc. 66) ¶ 8; see also Pls.' Ex. 6, Tony Fleming Deposition Excerpts Vol. I ("Fleming Dep. Vol. I") (Doc. 127–7) at 38 (stating that Quinn "started coming around" as Austin signed an SRA with Impact Sports, which occurred on June 15, 2011).)2 Defendants also admit that they met with Quinn again between that meeting and mid-July. (Pls.' Ex. 18, July 4, 2011 Email (Doc. 129–4); Pls.' Ex. 6, Fleming Dep. Vol. I (Doc. 127–7) at 40.) Later, on July 20, 2011, Quinn notified Carey by text message that he was terminating his SRA with Plaintiffs. As a text message is not a sufficient means of terminating an SRA under the NFL–NFLPA CBA, Quinn formally terminated his SRA with Plaintiffs via fax on July 22, 2011.

116 F.Supp.3d 648

(Pls.' Ex. 22, Fax from Quinn to Carey (Doc. 129–10).)

Quinn then signed an SRA with Defendant Fleming, dated July 28, 2011. (Pls.' Exs. 4–5, SRA between Fleming & Quinn (Docs. 127–5, 127–6).) Along with executing an SRA, Quinn and Defendants also entered into a "Marketing Advance Agreement," pursuant to which Impact Sports was to advance Quinn $100,000 by July 31, 2011, to be recouped out of Quinn's "Marketing Income." (Pls.' Ex. 15, Marketing Advance Agreement (Doc. 127–16) ¶ ¶ 2–3; Pls.' Ex. 41, Impact Sports Check 1058 (Doc. 128–9) (directing payment of $50,000 to Quinn on July 29, 2011); Pls.' Ex. 42, Impact Sports Check 1059 (Doc. 128–10) (same).)

It is important to note that these events take place in the context of the "lock-out" that resulted from a breakdown in CBA negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA. In their Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs explain that from March 11 to July 25, 2011, the NFLPA decertified as a union representing NFL players and, among other things, regulating their Contract Advisors. (Am. Compl. (Doc. 17) ¶¶ 51–53.) As part of this process, the NFLPA discontinued its agent regulation system, making it possible for agents to contact and communicate with players under existing contracts with other agents, something that is normally prohibited by the NFLPA. (Id. )

While the parties are generally in agreement as to the foregoing timeline, the parties dispute a number of facts that Plaintiffs use to infer that Defendants recruited Quinn and induced Quinn to terminate his SRA with Plaintiffs. As a general matter, Plaintiffs rely extensively on the deposition of Sean Kiernan to show that genuine disputes exist as to their allegations. Kiernan began working for Impact Sports in May 2003 and resigned on July 8, 2014. (Pls.' Ex. 7, Sean Kiernan Oral Deposition ("Kiernan Dep.") (Doc. 127–8) at 3–4.) Defendants describe Kiernan as "a disgruntled former employee." (Defs.' Resp. to Pls.' Statement of Add'l Facts (Doc. 138) at 4.)

As a means of giving context to the following disputed facts, this court notes that Plaintiffs make three general allegations to support their claims that Defendants committed unfair and deceptive acts or practices and engaged in a civil conspiracy: (1) Defendants illegally used "runners" to recruit Quinn as a client; (2) Defendants paid a large amount of money to Quinn in the form of a "Marketing Advance" as a means of inducing him to terminate his SRA with Plaintiffs; and (3) Defendants committed these acts as a means of retaliating against Plaintiffs. (See Pls.' Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Pls.' Mem.") (Doc. 132) at 2.) In this section, this court outlines the factual disputes concerning these three claims.

First, Plaintiffs claim that individuals associated with and working on behalf of Impact Sports began recruiting Quinn well before July 2011. Plaintiffs identify Todd Stewart as being one of the individuals who actively recruited Quinn on behalf of Defendants. Stewart and Defendant Frankel met each other in 1997 and were reintroduced in 2010 by Defendants Fleming and Austin. (Pls.' Ex. 11, Mitch Frankel Deposition ("Frankel Dep.") (Doc. 127–12) at 24.) Defendants admit that Stewart worked with Impact Sports on a trial basis from roughly 2009 until...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9 cases
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Stein, 1:16CV25
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • June 12, 2020
    ...compensat[ing], or induc[ing]" someone to engage in that act. See Champion Pro Consulting Grp., LLC v. Impact Sports Football, LLC, 116 F. Supp. 3d 644, 652, 664 (M.D.N.C. 2015), aff'd sub nom. Champion Pro Consulting Grp., Inc. v. Impact Sports Football, LLC, 845 F.3d 104 (4th Cir. 2016) (......
  • South Carolina v. United States, Civil Action No. 1:16–cv–00391–JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • February 7, 2017
    ...No. 1:15cv227, 2015 WL 6110859, at *7 n.7 (M.D.N.C. Oct. 16, 2015) ; Champion Pro Consulting Grp., LLC v. Impact Sports Football, LLC , 116 F.Supp.3d 644, 646–47 (M.D.N.C. 2015) ;Daniel v. Nat'l Cas. Ins. Co. , No. MJG–13–1549, 2014 WL 4955402, at *2 (D. Md. Sept. 29, 2014) ; Remediation Pr......
  • Church Ekklasia Sozo, Inc. v. CVS Health Corp.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • February 25, 2022
    ...injurious to consumers”; or has a tendency to deceive. See Champion Pro Consulting Grp., LLC v. Impact Sports Football, LLC, 116 F.Supp.3d 644, 652 (M.D. N.C. 2015); Walker v. Fleetwood Homes of N. Carolina., Inc., 362 N.C. 63, 72, 653 S.E.2d 393, 399 (2007). The UDTPA is intended “to provi......
  • Church Ekklasia Sozo, Inc. v. CVS Health Corp.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
    • September 27, 2021
    ...injurious to consumers”; or has a tendency to deceive. See Champion Pro Consulting Grp., LLC v. Impact Sports Football, LLC, 116 F.Supp.3d 644, 652 (M.D. N.C. 2015). The UDTPA is intended “to provide a civil means to maintain ethical standards of dealings between persons engaged in business......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT