DALLAS—Whether Jay Z’s sports marketing firm Roc Nation poached Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant from another sports marketing firm is now the sole issue in a year-old civil suit following a Texas judge’s decision to dismiss another claim in the case last week.
On March 22, U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle dismissed a tortious interference with prospective contractual relations claim against Roc Nation Sports made by Florida-based sports marketing firm Official Brands. It was a deja vu moment as Boyle granted a motion to dismiss the same claim against Roc Nation in December.
The legal battle between Official Brands and Roc Nation began on April 21, 2015, when the former filed a civil suit in the 101st Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, alleging Roc Nation lured Bryant away from his contract with the marketing agency. Neither Bryant nor Sean “Jay Z” Carter are parties in the lawsuit.
The Florida-based Official Brands sought monetary damages—between $200,000 and $1 million—from Roc Nation and Roc Nation Sports, plus exemplary damages for what was Roc Nation's malice or actual fraud. Official Brands reasoned the suit by stating their work helped Bryant build his “Throw up the X” brand.
Official Brands said Bryant asked the firm to handle his off-the-field interests and the parties signed a two year contract in July 2014. Under the contract, Official Brands was given permission to use Bryant’s name, signature and likeness to develop “Throw Up the X” brand as well as to connect the company to social media and websites.
But on Feb. 24, 2015, Bryant told the group he was moving on and the footballer severed all communication with Official Brands Talent Booking Agent Ryan Totka, who at a later date was sent a letter from Bryant's lawyer, Jordan Siev, notifying him of the termination.
Official Brands argues it provided “unprecedented services” and “invested substantial time and money” into Bryant’s brand and that Roc Nation employees made false promises and “disparaging statements” to Bryant in order to get him to break his contract with Official Brands. Roc Nation denies those claims.
Given Official Brands was not able to show future monetary losses, but only estimate them, on Dec. 15, 2015, Judge Boyle did not allow Official Brands to move forward on its claim that Roc Nation interfered with a prospective business relation with Bryant.
Days later, Roc Nation Sports moved to dismiss Official Brands’ claim for tortious interference with prospective business and contractual relations “based on plaintiff’s failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against Roc Nation Sports,” according to court documents. Official Brands essentially unopposed the motion when the group conceded the court’s earlier ruling should apply to its claims against both defendants.
A jury trial has been scheduled for Sept. 19, 2016 before Boyle.