Zion Williamson Wins First Stage of $100M Lawsuit

Zion Williamson received 100 million reasons to smile yesterday, as a federal judge in North Carolina ruled in favor of the New Orleans Pelicans star. Williamson filed a lawsuit in North Carolina federal court against Prime Sports Marketing, a Florida-based agency, and his former agent Gina Ford. Concurrently, Prime Sports has filed a federal lawsuit in Florida, seeking $100M in damages after Williamson terminated his contract with Prime Sports in June 2019 and signed with Creative Artists Agency LLC (CAA). 

There are a few things going on in this legal case, as both parties have filed lawsuits against the other, which means this is a partial ruling and not the end of what will be a lengthy process. U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina ruled that the contract Zion signed with Prime Sports was invalid as it did not comply with the state's sports agent law - the Uniform Athlete Agents Act - regarding multiple clauses. The Judge concluded that Prime Sports did not include verbiage warning its client that signing with an agent causes athletes to forfeit the amateur status; Ford was not licensed as an agent in North Carolina and there was no disclaimer giving Williamson a 14-day period to opt-out of the contract. 

Zion's lawyer, Jeffrey S. Klein, said in a written statement

We are grateful that the court invalidated the contract based on the merits of the case, in line with the clear, relevant requirements under North Carolina law. The court confirmed that actual facts matter, which hopefully will serve as a cautionary tale for unscrupulous agents looking to prey on student athletes.

Now that the lawsuit is settled in North Carolina, the court battle will shift to Florida as a federal judge will oversee that case. Given the decision in North Carolina, it's difficult to imagine a reversal of fortune in Florida. Once exonerated, Zion can finally breathe a sigh of relief, knowing he's saved $100M from leaving his pockets. 

Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports