Remaining actions against Fisher dropped from Hunter lawsuit
A judge has dropped the two remaining actions against Derek Fisher in Billy Hunter's lawsuit, leaving the disgraced former union chief to fight it out with the NBPA over his termination.
UPDATED 3:17 p.m. ET
A Los Angeles judge has dropped the two remaining actions against Derek Fisher in Billy Hunter's lawsuit, leaving the disgraced former union chief to fight it out with the National Basketball Players Association over his termination.
With two more actions against Fisher dropped from the lawsuit on Tuesday, Hunter has lost on all of his claims against Fisher and the former union president's business manager, Jamie Wior. All actions against Wior, and 12 of 14 against Fisher, were dropped last week.
The remaining actions against Fisher that were dropped Tuesday involved Hunter's allegations of breach of contract and intentional interference with contractual relations, said Fisher's attorney, Andrew Kassof. Hunter had alleged that Fisher and Wior conspired during the 2011 lockout to have him ousted as the NBPA's executive director so they could take control of the union.
Fisher is no longer president, having been replaced by the Clippers' Chris Paul this past August. Wior no longer works for Fisher, but has been retained by the NBPA to assist in the planning and execution of its winter meeting at All-Star weekend in New Orleans next month.
"The court's decision confirms that Hunter's allegations against Derek Fisher were completely unfounded," said Kassof, Fisher's attorney.
The judge set a hearing to determine Hunter's burden with respect to legal fees incurred by Fisher and Wior.
"We look forward to defending the remaining claims as the players acted appropriately in terminating Mr. Hunter,” NBPA attorney Christina Sarchio said.
Hunter was unanimously terminated in February 2013 after Fisher's allegations of improprieties led to an internal investigation revealing that Hunter improperly managed conflicts of interest and put his own self interests ahead of the union's.
Although Hunter, 71, failed in his actions against Fisher and Wior, the most important aspect of his lawsuit remains intact: his effort to prove that the contract owing him $10.5 million at the time of his dismissal was valid. LA Superior Court Judge Huey Cotton ruled last week that Hunter successfully made the case that his 2010 extension, authorized by Fisher, was "an enforceable contract between Hunter and the NBPA."
Lawyers for the NBPA stated in oral arguments last week their intention to seek arbitration with Hunter if his contractual claims survived their motions to dismiss. It's not clear whether the NBPA would have legal standing to arbitrate a contract that it has argued is not valid, or whether the judge would be likely to rule in the NBPA's favor that Hunter was fired for cause -- meaning he would not be due his remaining salary and benefits.
Meanwhile, the NBPA is continuing to work with an executive search firm to find a permanent replacement for Hunter as executive director. Although the possibility of another work stoppage doesn't exist until July 1, 2017, it would behoove the NBPA to have new leadership in place as soon as possible after Adam Silver ascends to the NBA's commissionership on Feb. 1, replacing David Stern after a 30-year reign.
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