David Falk’s FAME sports agency (Falk Associates Management Enterprises) sued former NBA player Evan Turner for $2 million for breach of contract. The lawsuit was filed yesterday, December 1, 2022, in the Superior Court of Delaware. Falk is best known for representing Michael Jordan for the entirety of Jordan’s career. The defendants are EMTURN LLC (“EmTurn”) and Evan Turner. According to FAME’s complaint, EmTurn is a loan-out company made for Turner’s endorsement and marketing services.
Plaintiff pleads alter-ego liability against Turner to avoid the LLC’s shield of personal liability. Specifically, it is alleged that “Turner regularly failed to observe corporate formalities with respect to EmTurn” as board meetings weren't held and Turner controlled all company bank accounts for personal use.
Back in 2010, Turner agreed to hire David Falk as his exclusive agent in connection with contract negotiation and marketing and endorsement deals. Later in that year, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Turner 2nd overall and Falk negotiated his entry-level deal.
This lawsuit centers upon the marketing and endorsement aspect of the parties’ fiduciary agreement. With respect to marketing services, Turner allegedly agreed to pay Plaintiff a fee in the amount of 15% of all compensation received and 20% of such compensation in the event that Turner made more than $2 million in any given year.
According to the complaint, on May 6, 2010, Falk entered into talks with a Chinese sports and apparel brand, Li-Ning Sports. This was identified as a potential marketing and endorsement opportunity for Turner. As a result, the parties agreed on a 6-year endorsement agreement which provided Turner and his company with a guaranteed minimum compensation of $15 million plus one million shares of Lin-Ning Sports that vested between 2011-2016.
The breakdown of the alleged minimum guaranteed compensation ($15M) and vesting schedule are depicted below:
Plaintiff claims that Turner then defrauded EmTurn by diverting the stock from EmTurn to himself. In September of 2021, Turner allegedly sold a portion of the Li-Ning stock and individually received the sum of $10 million. This action is what, Plaintiff claims, triggered the agency’s entitlement to $2 million, or 20% of the capital gains. FAME sent an invoice to Turner on July 15, 2022 for $2 million, and Turner has refused to pay it.
The causes of action are breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and quantum meruit, with the latter two pleaded in the alternative. Evan Turner was an Ohio State standout, and player for various NBA teams between 2010-2020. Falk and Turner parted ways as fiduciaries in 2016, when Turner left to join BDA Sports.
Jason Morrin is a law clerk (pending admission to the NY Bar) at Zumpano, Patricios & Popok LLP in New York, a firm dedicated to litigation and business counseling including in the areas of sports, gaming and entertainment. He graduated cum laude from Hofstra Law School where he was president of the Sports and Entertainment Law Society. His writing for Conduct Detrimental has been cited by ESPN, The New York Post, USA Today, and more.