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Federal judge again rules in favor of Zion Williamson in lawsuit

The defendants were seeking to recover payment for the work they did for Zion, according to a copy of the ruling.
Credit: AP
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson shakes hands with New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green with New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin standing in the background after talking to the media about signing his contract extension at the Dryades YMCA in New Orleans, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. (Max Becherer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A federal judge in North Carolina has again ruled in favor of NBA All Star Zion Williamson, this time in connection with a lawsuit he filed against a marketing agent two years ago in an attempt to break a contract.

U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs denied a number of motions filed by Prime Sports Marketing and Gina Ford, which entered an agreement to represent Williamson when he was at Duke. The defendants were seeking to recover payment for the work they did for him, according to a copy of the ruling.

Biggs denied multiple motions by the defendants for summary judgment and to stay proceedings in the case regarding the contract. The court ruled previously that because neither the company nor the agent complied with North Carolina law, their agreement was void and unenforceable.

In January 2021, Biggs ruled in favor of Williamson, saying Ford’s contract with Williamson was void because Ford was not a licensed agent in the state at the time she met with Williamson. The judge also ruled the contract did not comply with key requirements outlined by the state’s sports agent law, the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.

The act requires that the contract include warnings explaining how hiring agents causes athletes to forfeit their amateur status. It also requires such contracts to include a disclaimer giving athletes 14 days to cancel.

Williamson, who was draft No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019, filed the federal lawsuit in North Carolina that June to terminate a five-year contract with Ford’s agency after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

Attorneys for Ford and Prime Sports had alleged that North Carolina’s athlete agent law should not apply to Williamson because he and his family had accepted improper financial benefits while he was still enrolled at Duke. Ford’s attorney’s filed an affidavit alleging a $400,000 payment was made to Williamson’s family before the he began his only season with the Blue Devils.

Williamson lawyer Jeffrey S. Klein asked the court to disregard the affidavit, arguing that the allegations were false and that supporting documents were fraudulent. He noted the facts in the case remained that Williamson completed his lone season at Duke in good standing and had never been ruled ineligible by the NCAA.

The judge agreed, noting that there was no legal basis for the courts to decide whether Williamson had violated NCAA rules.

The ruling was issued on July 15.

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