Legal Analysis: Al Haymon Sued for Interference by Main Events
by Bryanna Fissori
Main Events has filed a lawsuit against manager/adviser Al Haymon, light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, promoters Yvon Michel and Golden Boy Promotions, Showtime, and eight unnamed “John Doe” defendants.
The civil suit hosts five causes of action including:
1. Breach of contract between Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM) and Main Events
2. Breach of fiduciary duty by GYM
3. Fraud by Yvon Michel
4. Tortious interference with contract against Al Haymon, Golden Boy, Stevenson, Showtime and John Does 1-8; and
5. Interference with prospective economic advantage against Haymon, Golden Boy, Stevenson, Showtime and the John Does.
The lawsuit was filed on April 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and arises out of a contractual interference for Adonis Stevenson v Sergey Kovalev to be scheduled later in the year, unifying the 175 pound title. This bout is the focus of the lawsuit.
Contention over the status of the contract between GYM and Main Events began after Haymon became an agent for Stevenson around February of this year. Up to this point there was no known threat of another promotion interfering with the contract.
Main Events, which promotes Kovalev, contends in the lawsuit that it had an agreement with Michel and Groupe Yvon Michel Inc. promotional company for Stevenson vs. Kovalev bout. Main Event also contends that discussion to set up the fight began last year, the co-promotional agreement was decided on January 23, 2014 and awaited only fighter approval. The promotion also states that a series of email messages sent between the parties on that day proves the details of the agreement.
“Following a telephone conversation, Ms. Duva (of Main Events) sent a deal memo reflecting what she believed had been agreed upon,” the lawsuit claims. “That memo detailed the material points of the co-promotion. That email was sent at approximately 1:53 p.m. At this stage, both parties understood that the deal was subject to the approval of the respective fighters.
Mr. Michel responded with an email containing some less significant points. Mr. Michel’s email was sent at approximately 2:48 p.m. on January 23, 2014. The exchange of emails covered all material points, including how U.S. television revenues were to be split, how Canadian revenues were to be split, how international revenues were to be split, the target date for the fight, and the rights fee which would be acceptable for the bout in negotiations with HBO, which were contemplated to take place the following day, on January 24, 2014.”
The lawsuit claims an agreement had been “consummated” on Jan. 24. The lawsuit also claims that Michel and other representatives of his company repeated verbally afterward that an agreement was in place for the bout.
The cause of action refers to Al Haymon as a manager/adviser who “in many instances performs as a promoter” and “has entered into an alliance with Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy.”
The suit goes into detail on the relationship to state, “Haymon has entered into an alliance with Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy. Upon information and belief one object of this alliance is to wrest control of Golden Boy from Oscar De La Hoya for their own financial gain.
As part of this scheme, Schaefer has in some instances relinquished and in other instances not required promotional agreements with fighters which Golden Boy has built into attractions, in violation of his fiduciary duties, relying instead only on Haymon’s good will, placing the corporation in a weakened position. The concept is for Haymon and Schaefer to use Haymon’s fighter contracts to seek financial to both buy out De La Hoya and continue their violation of the Muhammad Ali Act in other respects for their own financial gain.”
Breach of Contract Between GYM and Main Events
The claim states that “A legally binding contract existed between plaintiff Main Events and defendant GYM to co-promote a bout between Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev.” The contract in question refers to the emails exchanged confirming the match-up as well as conversations documented.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty by GYM
Fiduciary duty is the standard of care implying an ethical relationship of trust between parties requiring a party to act in the best interest of the other party to which the duty is owed.
Main Events asserts that the co-promotion with GYM was based on splitting costs to maximize revenue, which they contend makes the co-promotion a joint venture and thus a fiduciary duty is inherently owed.
Fraud by Yvon Michel
Main Events alleges that Yvon Michel made a number of statements, which proved to be untrue including that GYM had authority to enter into an agreement with Main Events, GYM had a contract with Stevenson, that Al Haymon had been informed of the binding agreement, that Main Events “had nothing to worry about,” in respect to the contract for the fight.
“It was later disclosed that Haymon, with knowledge of the co-promotion deal between GYM and Main Events, was attempting to set up a bout between Stevenson and Golden Boy’s fighter, Bernard Hopkins, with Haymon negotiating directly with Showtime to the alleged exclusion of Mr. Michel.”
Tortious Interference with contract against Al Haymon, Golden Boy, Stevenson, Showtime and John Does 1-8
Tortious interference occurs when a person intentionally damages a contractual or other business relationship. A key element of this cause of action that the defendant must have had knowledge of the contractual relationship.
It appears that with the addition of Haymon as an agent for Stevenson, Main Event took preemptive measures to ensure that there would be no misunderstanding by sending a letter in mid-February to be given to Haymon through GYM informing him of the contract, even though they were already assured by Michel that both Haymon and Stevenson were informed of the contract.
Showtime was also placed on notice of the contract via letter about a month after the letter was sent to Haymon.
Richard Schaefer, purportedly in conjunction with Haymon announced that Golden Boy would be promoting the Stevenson/Kovalev bout.
In summary, “Haymon and Golden Boy, through Schaefer, interfered with the contract between GYM and Main Events to co-promote a Stevenson bout by negotiating an alternate bout and convincing GYM to agree to the alternate out in derogation of its contract with Main Events and convincing Stevenson to engage in the alternate bout.
Showtime, by making an offer to Yvon Michel to telecast and alternate event . . . induced GYM to breach its agreement with Main Events.”
Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage Against Haymon, Golden Boy, Stevenson, Showtime and John Does 1-8
This claim was entered in the case that no contract is found. This situation could arise if the court finds the unsigned emails and additional proof of contract to be less than enough to meet the requirements of a legally binding agreement.
The defendants will likely respond with claims that there was in-fact no contract. Regardless, Main Events may still succeed on this cause of action if an economic relationship can be proven between the parties.
Main Event is asking for actual damages, punitive damages, fees and any other relief the court deems just and proper.